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That very religion which the mercy of God designed to be free, with very few ceremonial 
sacraments, and of the plainest kind, is oppressed with slavish burdens, so that the condition of 
the Jews is more tolerable, who, although they knew not the time of their deliverance, are yet 
subjected to the yoke of the law, not to the weight of human assumptions. Augustine. 

There is but one Divine element of life which all believers share in common ; but one fellow- 
ship with Christ which proceeds from faith in Him ; but one new birth. All who possess this, 
all who are Christians in the true sense, have the same calling, the same dignity, the same 
heavenly blessings. Jo vinian. 


The title " Witnesses for Christ " was originally chosen by Edward 
Backhouse for the entire work, of which these volumes form the 
second instalment. It seemed however more appropriate to desig- 
nate the former volume, the second edition of which was published 
in 1885, Early Church History. In the two volumes now presented 
there is little attempt at a consecutive history of the Church, and 
the original title is therefore reverted to. 

With regard to the authorship of these volumes it should be 
stated that the idea and inception of the whole belong to the late 
Edward Backhouse, who had collected much material (extending 
even to the seventeenth century), and whose artistic taste supplied 
many of the illustrations. For the remainder of the work Charles 
Tylor is responsible. 


The work having been favourably received, it is thought well to 
issue a new edition in a cheaper form, so as to place it within the 
reach of a larger circle of readers. The whole has been revised, 
and a few chapters which were less closely related to the object of 
the writers and the title of the work, have been either entirely or 
partially omitted. 


A cordial acknowledgment is due to several friends who have rendered aid 
in various ways in the preparation of this work ; especially to Joseph Bevan 
Braithwaite and Thomas Hodgkin. Valuable assistance has also been received 
throughout from R. Hingston Fox. 



From the Death of Constantine, a.d. 337, to the Death of 
Augustine, a.d. 430. 

The Arian Epoch 


The Cappadocian Bishops 


Martin of Tours 













The Spirit of the Age : 

I. Public Worship 
II. Baptism and the Eucharist 
IH. Virginity 
IV. Fasting 
V. Almsgiving . . 
VI. Saint-Worship 
VH. Relics 
VIII. Monachism . . 
IX. The Church and the World 


Jovinian and Vigilantius 







From the Death of Augustine, a.d. 430, to the Accession of 
Pope Gregory the Great, a.d. 590. 


The Nestorian Strife 201 

Christian Art and Mary-Worship 225 

Benedict 235 


From the Accession of Pope Gregory the Great, a.d. 590, 
to the end of the Tenth Century. 


Gregory the Great 245 

Note on the Papacy 255 

Christianity in Britain 257 

The Gospel in Northumbria 270 

British Missionaries to the German Nations 294 

The Mohammedan Conquest 303 

The Paulicians 306 

Witnesses from the Eighth to the Tenth Century 312 



From the Tenth Century to the Termination of the Crusade 



Monastic Life in the Middle Ages Cluny 333 

Monastic Life in the Middle Ages (continued) Citeaux . . . . . . 344 


Monastic Life in the Middle Ages (concluded) Clairvaux, and Bernard . . 352 

The Paulicians in Western Europe 369 

The Reformers of the Twelfth Century 378 

TheWaldenses 396 


The Crusade against the Albigenses . . . . . . . . . . . . 407 

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 428 

Authorities 432 

Index 433 


Justinian and Theodora 

Episcopal Chaie of Ambrose 

Doors of the Basilica of St. Ambrose 

Palace of Theodoric, Eavenna 

Fac-simile from the Durham Book .. 

Monkwearmouth Church 

Sculpture from the same 

Ornamentation from the Durham book 

Jarrow Church 

Ceolfrid's Farewell 

Bede's Chair 

Death of Bede 

Baptismal Vow, Old German 

Queen Thyra's Cup and Cross 

The Jellinge Stone, Jutland; Pagan Face 

,, Christian Face 

,, Inscription 

Seal of Bernard of Clairvaux 

Waldensian Candlestick 

Fac-simile from the Troubadour's Lay 






To face 282 






The Akian Epoch. 

From the time of Constantino the history of the Church becomes 
the history of the world. To continue the subject in the historical 
form of the previous volume would lead us far beyond our limits. 
The purpose of the present work is rather to seek out true 
Witnesses for Christ, whether amongst those upon whom the 
Church has bestowed the title of saint, or amongst the rejected 
and proscribed, whom she has branded with the name of heretic. 
The former, however great and good, were for the most part con- 
tented with the Christianity by which they were surrounded ; and 
if they made any attempts at reformation, did little more than aim 
at the correction of abuses in discipline and manners. They left 
the fungus growth of superstition untouched, and in some cases 
even more rank than they found it. The heretics, such of them as 
are worthy of memorial, are those who, not always, it is true, in 
its completeness, discovered the truth through the mist which hid 
it from the eyes of the many, and who ventured loss of character, 
liberty, and life in order to persuade others to embrace it. 

At the close of the first century we found Christianity numbering 
but few followers, little known and despised, yet steadily permeating 
the great Roman Empire, and wherever it came effecting a mar- 
vellous change in the dispositions and conduct of men. From age 
to age the Church grew, and asserted her reality and her power in 
the teeth of all manner of calumny and opposition. In spite of 
adverse laws and cruel edicts, she won her way, step by step, even 
before the days of persecution ceased, to a recognised place of 
influence and honour. 

When Constantine declared himself her nursing-father, a new 
era opened before her. Suddenly her relations with the world 
were changed : her implacable enemy was cast under her feet ; she 
ceased to be persecuted, and, alas ! she became a persecutor. From 
this time we look upon the Eoman Empire as no longer pagan, but 
Christian : the laws are Christian ; the magistrates are Christian ; 


the Emperor is Christian. Pagan temples and sacrifices, if they 
do not at once disappear, are gradually replaced by Christian 
churches ; and paganism soon begins to hide itself in the corners 
of the earth. 1 The wholesale admission of the people into the 
Church after the accession of Constantine brought with it a crowd 
of abuses, and powerfully accelerated that declension which, in 
spite of the purifying effect of persecution, had been going on for 
several generations. 

Another point of difference between the history of the Church 
before and after the edicts of Milan (a.d. 313, 314) must be noticed. 
The historic materials, which before were scanty, now become 
abundant. A host of Church writers appear at once upon the 
scene. Homilies, orations, lectures, commentaries on Scripture, 
controversial treatises, confessions, epistles, histories, biographies 
of saints and hermits, hymns, poems, are poured forth in such 
volume that only a few amongst modern scholars have patience 
enough to master the folios in which they are preserved. This 
brilliant era of Christian literature lasted but little more than a 
century ; it did not survive the irruption of the barbarian hordes. 
After the Goths, Vandals, Franks, and Huns had swept over the 
empire, trampling down civilisation, the lamps of knowledge became 
few and dim, and were soon all but extinguished. 

It will be convenient to divide the present work into chrono- 
logical epochs, the first of which will embrace the period from the 
death of Constantine in 337, to that of Augustine in 430. A brief 
outline of events between these two eras may serve as an intro- 
duction to our biographies of the Witnesses of this age. 

On Constantine's death he was succeeded by his three sons, who 
divided his empire between them. Constantine II. received the 
"Western provinces, Constantius the Eastern, and Constans had 
Illyricum, Italy, and part of Africa, for his share. Constantine, 
whilst invading the dominions of Constans, was killed in battle, 
a.d. 340. Constans was slain a.d. 350 by one of his generals, who 
was in turn overcome by Constantius, in 353. Constantine and 
Constans favoured the Catholic or orthodox party ; Constantius, 
like his father in his later days, espoused the cause of the Arians, 
but with a more blind zeal and greater intolerance. The nature of 
the Arian error has already been set forth in Early Church History. 
Arius, whilst ascribing to our Lord divine honour, taught, contrary 
to the plain testimony of Scripture, that He had a beginning, and 

1 The name pagan is derived from the Latin pagus, a canton or country dis- 
trict, because it was there the old idolatry survived the longest. In like manner, 
heathen signifies one who lives on the heath, that is, in the open country. 


is not of the same substance or essence (homo-onsion) as the 
Father. Partly from the Oriental love of speculation, partly from 
an honest dread of sensuous ideas and unscriptural terms, a great 
portion of the Eastern Church became his followers. The chief 
opponent of Arius was Athanasius. The whole life of this remark- 
able man was devoted to the defence of our Lord's proper deity, the 
cardinal truth which it was the object of the Council of Nicaea to 
settle and confirm. 1 

We have seen that at the death of Constantine the Great, 
Arianism was in the ascendant. That Emperor, in the part which 
he took in theological controversies, never lost sight of the interests 
of the State. It was otherwise with his son Constantius, who 
entered the polemical lists as if he had been himself a bishop. 2 
His reign, with those of the succeeding Arian emperors, was a 
period of intense agitation in the Church. " Council was held 
against council ; creed was set up against creed ; anathema was 
hurled against anathema." " As many creeds exist as inclinations," 
wrote the orthodox Hilary of Poictiers in his exile, "as many 
doctrines as modes of life. . . . Whilst we are disputing about 
words, searching into novelties, catching at ambiguities, anathe- 
matising one another scarcely one belongs to Christ. . . . We 
make creeds every year, nay every month ; we repent when we 
have made them ; we defend those who repent ; we anathematise 
those whom we have defended ; we condemn either other people's 
opinions in our own, or our own in other people ; mutually 
devouring one another we are at length mutually consumed." 
" The posting service of the empire," says Ammianus Marcellinus, 
"was thrown into confusion by the troops of bishops galloping 
hither and thither to the assemblies which they called synods." 
And Athanasius rebukes " the restless nutter of the clergy, who 
journeyed the empire over to find the true faith, and provoked the 
ridicule and contempt of the unbelieving world." But it was not 

1 Early Church History, pt. ii. c. 11. 
2 He accepted with complacency the lofty title of " bishop of bishops." The 
reign of Constantius is described by Thomas Hodgkin as "one of the most 
peculiar of which history has preserved a record ; the reign of a man deeply 
dyed in the blood of relatives and friends, who used the obsequious service of 
eunuchs instead of entrusting the affairs of the State to honest and capable 
ministers, whose feeble haughtiness and cowardly ambition bear no trace of the 
influence of Christianity upon his life, but who, nevertheless, plunged into 
theological discussions with an eagerness, and continued in the same with a 
patient endurance, such as we should scarcely find nowadays in a salaried pro- 
fessor of Divinity." Like his father, Constantius deferred baptism till shortly 
before his death. 


the clergy only who took part in the strife. The points of the 
Arian controversy were the fashionable topics of conversation 
amongst all ranks, from the highest to the lowest. " Every corner 
and nook of the city" (Constantinople), writes Gregory of Nyssa, 
"is full of men who discuss incomprehensible subjects the streets, 
the markets, the dealers in old clothes, the money-changers, the 
hucksters. Ask a man how many oboli it comes to, he will dogma- 
tise on generated and un generated being. Inquire the price of 
bread, you are answered : ' The Father is greater than the Son, 
and the Son subordinate to the Father.' Ask if the bath is ready, 
and you are told : 'The Son of God was created from nothing.'" 
The war was very far, however, from being confined to words ; the 
intolerance of the age showed itself in innumerable acts of violence, 
in which the Arians seem to have far outdone the Catholics. The 
great cities of the East especially were the frequent scenes of con- 
fusion and bloodshed. 

From a.d. 341 to the death of Constantius in 361, no fewer than 
twelve councils, or synods, were held, at which the balance con- 
tinually vibrated between orthodoxy and Arianism, but with a 
general inclination towards the latter. This was due to the 
arbitrary will of the Emperor, who at the Council of Milan pro- 
pounded an Arian formula which he pretended to have received by 
revelation, and at the same time attempted to quench all freedom 
of debate by saying, "Whatever I will let that be esteemed a 
canon!" During the strife the Arian party split into two camps, 
the Semi-Arians or Homoi-ousions (a name adopted to express that 
the essence of the Son is like but not the same as that of the Father), 
and the thorough Arians, who held more distinctly than Arius 
himself that the Son is essentially a creature unlike the Father, not 
only in substance but in will. The Orthodox body were called 
Homo-ousions, to signify their belief that the Son is of the same 
essence as the Father, but a different person. During the storm 
Athanasius, Hosius of Cordova, Liberius of Kome, Hilary of Poictiers, 
and other eminent bishops of the Catholic party, were deposed and 
banished. "The whole world," exclaims Jerome, "groaned in 
astonishment to find itself Arian." 

This state of things, however, did not last long. On the death of 
Constantius in 861, Christianity itself was for a time set aside by 
the accession of Julian, surnamed the Apostate, nephew to Constan- 
tine the Great. As soon as this prince ascended the throne, he 
declared himself in favour of the ancient idolatry, and restored it 
to its former place as the religion of the State. He sought to 
infuse new life into the dying creed by adopting the moral code of 


Christianity and introducing many of its forms. The laws which 
he enacted against the Church were indeed mild in comparison 
'with those which his predecessor had issued against heathenism, 
yet in the course of his short reign the Christians had to endure no 
little hardship, both from the government and the people. 

One form in which Julian's enmity to the Gospel showed itself 
was the attempt to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. He seems to 
have supposed that he could falsify our Lord's prediction of its 
perpetual ruin. At his call Jews from all the provinces of the 
empire assembled on the holy mountain of their fathers, and 
entered with fanatical zeal into the great national work. The rich 
used spades and mattocks and baskets of silver, and ladies carried 
the earth and stones of the holy spot in their silken aprons. But 
as soon as the rubbish had been cleared away, and the old founda- 
tions laid bare, "fearful balls of flame" are said "to have burst 
forth from the earth, burnt the workmen, and again and again 
driven them from the spot." 

The reign of restored paganism was short. Julian died in 363, 
And was succeeded by Jovian, a zealous upholder of Christianity, 
but who, from the critical circumstances of the times, left the 
pagans unmolested. At his death, after a reign of only eight 
months, the purple fell jointly to Valentinian I. and Valens, under 
whom the final division of the empire was made, Valens taking the 
East and Valentinian the West. Valens trod in the footsteps of 
<3onstantius, and suffered himself to become the tool of the Arian 
-clergy. His reign was in consequence a period of deplorable deso- 
lation in the Oriental Churches. "Worthy bishops were driven 
from their sees ; worthless men, who had their patrons among the 
Imperial eunuchs and chamberlains, were imposed on the Churches 
as priests and bishops." Many of the orthodox clergy were put to 
death. On the death of Valens, in 378, the Catholics recovered 
their power, and the Arians in their turn were driven from the 
"Churches, never to regain their former influence. 

The legal toleration of paganism continued in the first years of 
the Emperors Gratian and Valentinian II. in the West, and 
Theodosius in the East; until, in 881, Theodosius, whose character 
And military genius could brook no breach of uniformity, directed 
the whole force of his authority to its suppression ; and his efforts 
were zealously seconded by the clergy and the Christian populace. 

But Theodosius was not only a "most Christian" he was a "most 
Catholic" Emperor. Summoned by Gratian to deliver the East 
from the Goths, and baptized when dangerously ill into the Nicene 
faith, he set himself to combat with equal skill and success the 


enemies of the Catholic Church and those of the empire. To him 
was due the second general council (that of Constantinople, a.d. 381), 
by which the Nicene Creed was finally established with the addition 
of a clause stating in express terms the divinity of the Holy Spirit. 1 
The soldier theologian thus makes known his Imperial will. The 
decree, directed in the first place against the Arians, was meant to 
reach all dissenters. "It is our will that all the nations who are 
subject to the rules of Our Clemency shall adhere to that religion 
which the divine Apostle Peter handed to the Romans, as is 
sufficiently shown by its existence among them to this day. . . - 
We believe the One Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Ghost with 
equal majesty in the Holy Trinity. We order those who follow 
this law to assume the name of Catholic 2 Christians: we pronounce 
all others to be mad and foolish, and we order that they shall bear 
the ignominious name of heretics, 3 and shall not presume to bestow 
on their conventicles the title of churches: and they are to be 
visited, first by the divine vengeance, and secondarily by the stroke 
of our own authority, which we have received in accordance with 
the will of heaven." This edict being found insufficient, another, 
more stringent, was issued the next year. " Let there be no place 
left to the heretics for celebrating the mysteries of their faith, no 
opportunity for exhibiting their stupid obstinacy. . . . Their crimes 
being made manifest, let them receive a mark of opprobrium, and 
be kept utterly away from even the thresholds of the churches. If 
they attempt any outbreak, we order that their rage shall be quelled, 
and they shall be cast forth outside the walls of the cities, so that 
the Catholic churches, the whole world over, may be restored to 
the orthodox prelates who hold the Nicene faith." 

These measures, although not in all cases rigorously enforced, 
were successful. "Neither heathenism nor sectarianism," observes- 
Eobertson, "had much inward strength to withstand the pressure 
of the laws which required conformity to the Church." Expelled 
from the old Churches of the empire, Arianism found refuge 
amongst the barbarians, especially the Goths and Vandals, the 

1 The creed as adopted at the Council of Nicsea will be found in the Early 
Church History, p. 236. As enlarged by the Council of Constantinople, it is,. 
with one exception, the same as we find in the liturgy of the Church of England. 
In this liturgy the word Filioque (and the Son), denoting the procession of the- 
Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son together, has been added. 

2 Catholic, ^athohkos (kath holou, on the whole), general, universal. This 
term was employed by very early Christian writers in the same sense in which 
it is still used. 

3 Heresy, hairesis, signifies (1) a choosing; (2) an opinion which anyone 
chooses for himself ; (3) something different from the Catholic opinions. 


latter of whom, when they acquired possession of North Africa,. 
a.d. 429, cruelly persecuted the adherents of the Nicene faith. 

But with the overthrow of Arianism its disastrous consequences- 
did not disappear. By this half-century of theological contention 
a severe blow had been dealt at the life of Christianity. "Whilst," 
observes Ullniann, "the sanctifying and beatifying doctrines of the 
Gospel which point to the conversion of the inner man were suffered 
to lie inactive, every one from the Emperor to the beggar occupied 
himself with incredible earnestness in the discussion of propositions, 
concerning which the Gospel communicates just so much as is- 
profitable to us and necessary to salvation." " This contentious 
spirit," writes Gregory Nazianzen, "has torn asunder the Church ; 
thrown cities into commotion, driven the people to take up arms,, 
and excited princes against one another; separated the priests from 
the congregation, and the congregation from the priests. Every- 
thing which bears a holy name has been profaned; . . . an insolent 
presumption has usurped the place of law ; and we are divided, not 
merely tribe againt tribe, as was Israel of old, but house against 
house, family against family, nay, almost every one is distracted 
within himself." 

The irruption of the barbarian nations has been already slightly 
alluded to. It is the grand political event of this period, and it 
influenced in the highest degree the future of the Christian Church- 
Already, in the third century, the Goths had broken through the 
barriers of the empire and settled themselves in some of its fairest 
provinces. They were succeeded by other tribes Vandals, Sueves, 
&c, and continual wars with alternate success were waged until r 
in 402, Alaric, king of the Visigoths, invaded Italy, and in 410 took 
Borne. For six days the Imperial city, which had stood for nearly 
twelve hundred years, was delivered up to the licentious fury of the 
barbarians. At the same time the Vandals and the Burgundians 
poured into Gaul, and the former, after establishing a kingdom in 
Spain, crossed over into Africa, a.d. 429, and made themselves 
masters of all the Koman dominions in that country. 

In bringing this brief outline to a close, we may notice an event 
which happened in the reign of the Emperor Honorius. Neither 
the attempt of Constantino to put an end to the combats of 
gladiators, 1 nor the protests of Christian writers renewed from age 
to age, could induce the Boman people to relinquish their favourite 
pastime. It seemed to require some act of heroic self-devotion to 

1 See Early Church History, p. 219. Constantine's edict seems to have been 
only local. 



break the spell by which they were bound to these shameful bar- 
barities. The Emperor Honorius, after the victory gained by his 
general Stilicho over Alaric and the Goths at Polantia in the year 
404, was celebrating a triumph with the usual games. An Eastern 
monk named Telemachus left his cell and travelled all the way to 
Rome in order to protest against the unchristian spectacle. He 
entered with the multitude into the theatre of the Coliseum. 
Gazing with agonized heart upon the revolting scene, and seeing 
no other way of making his protest known, he leaped down into 
the arena and attempted to separate the combatants. A cry of 
execration arose. The spectators, "possessed," saya the historian, 
" by the demon who delights in the effusion of blood, and maddened 
.at the interruption to their sport, stoned him to death." But the 
Emperor, struck with admiration at his self-devotion, and probably 
pricked in his own conscience, ordained that these sanguinary 
spectacles should be abolished, and that the name of Telemachus 
.should be entered on the roll of martyrs. 1 



The representative men whom we have selected from the ranks of 
the Catholic Church in this epoch were all contemporary ; Augustine, 
the youngest of them, had nearly reached man's estate when 
Athanasius died. They are as follows : 

Born Died 

Athanasius 296 373 

Basil 329 377 

Gregory Nazianzen .... 329 389 

Gregory Nyssen 331 395 

Ulfilas 2 311 381 

Born Died 

Martin of Tours 316 396 

Ambrose 340 397 

Chrysostom 347 407 

Jerome 346 420 

Augustine 8 354 430 

1 It was, however, only the combats of men with men that were discontin ued. 
Encounters between men and wild animals, in which human life was often 
sacrificed, and which took place even on the highest festivals of the Ch urch, 
Tvere as numerously and passionately attended as ever. To the disgrace of 
Christendom, the Boman games of the amphitheatre still exist in the bull-fights 
of Spain, France, and South America. 

8 Ulfilas was not in fact a Catholic ; he represents the Arian party. 

8 Other leading Churchmen of this century may be named: the learned 
Hosius, bishop of Cordova (a.d. 256-357), counsellor of Constantine the Great, 


We have, in the former volume, followed the eventful history of 
Athanasius until the death of Constantine. 1 His course under that 
Emperor's successors continued to be of the same stormy and 
eventful nature ; at one time a fugitive and exposed to hardship, 
at another returning in triumph to Alexandria and wielding his 
crozier with increased authority and vigour. 2 Inflexible of will, he 
alone, amidst the waves of party strife which during this time swept 
over Church and State, remained consistent to the one grand 
purpose of his life, viz., to preserve the orthodox faith pure from 
the taint of heresy. For this end he braved all dangers and with- 
stood the mandate of the Emperor himself. He was five times 
driven into exile. His sufferings only augmented his fame, which 
extended to the extreme confines of Christendom. 

During his second exile (a.d. 341-846), Athanasius spent three 
years in Italy, a residence memorable for the introduction of the 
monkish life into the countries of the West. Two strange uncouth 
figures in cloak and girdle accompanied him to Eome. These were 
Ammonius and Isidore, youthful monks from the Nitrian desert. 8 
The former, one of four brothers called from their unusual stature 
the Tall Brethren, was a learned man, and could repeat, it is said, 
the Old and New Testaments by heart, as well as passages from 
Origen and others of the Church Fathers ; yet he cared nothing 
for the ancient monuments or magnificent works of the great city, 
but only to visit the martyr churches of Peter and Paul. The 
fastidious taste of the Koman people was at first offended by the 
appearance and manners of the strangers, but this feeling soon 
gave way to admiration and reverence, as they heard them dilate 

and for a long period the most prominent figure in Western Christendom ; 
Hilary, bishop of Poictiers (died 368), the great champion of the Trinitarian 
doctrine in the West (" a very Rhone of eloquence," as Jerome styles him) ; 
Ephrem, a deacon of Edessa, "the prophet of the Syrians" (308-373); Cyril, 
bishop of Jerusalem (315-386), celebrated for his catechetical discourses on the 
mysteries of the faith. Some of these dates, and of those in the text, are only 

1 Early Church History, pt. ii. c. 11, 12. 

* His return from one of his exiles (the second) is described by Gregory 
Nazianzen as a most imposing spectacle. " The vast population of the great 
city streamed forth to meet him like another Nile ; innumerable faces gazed 
upon him ; the air resounded with shouts of joy and was made fragrant with 
clouds of incense. Within the city the streets were spread with carpets of the 
gayest colours, and myriads of lamps lighted up the night." 

8 Anthony, the first Christian hermit, was then living. Isidore afterwards 
became governor of the great hospice at Alexandria. He must be distinguished 
irom the more famous Isidore of Pelusium, who lived in the succeeding century. 


upon that life of bodily self-mortification and spiritual exaltation 
of which Eome had hitherto only heard rumours. 

After the death, in 350, of the Emperor Constans, Constantius, 
having procured the condemnation of Athanasius at the Council of 
Milan (a.d. 355), proceeded by force to eject him. The bishop was 
presiding over an all-night vigil in St. Thomas' Church, in his city 
of Alexandria, when Syrianus, general of the army in Egypt, with 
a force of 5,000 legionaries, encompassed the building. Athanasius 
himself has left an account of what took place. " I sat down on 
my throne, and desired the deacon to read the psalm of the day 
[the 136th] and the people to respond, ' For his mercy endureth 
for ever,' and then all to return home. Presently the doors were 
forced and the soldiers rushed in, sounding the trumpet, discharging 
their arrows, clashing their arms, and brandishing their swords in 
the light of the church-lamps. Many of the people who had not 
time to escape were trampled down, others fell pierced with arrows ; 
several of the virgins were slain, and the soldiers laid hands on 
others, who dreaded their touch more than death itself." Athanasius 
himself had a narrow escape. " Seeing the soldiers ready to seize 
me, the clergy and some of my people present began clamorously to 
urge me to withdraw. I refused to do so until everyone in the church 
had got away. Standing up, I called for prayer, and desired all to 
go out before me ; and when the greater part had gone, the monks 
and the clergy who were about me came up the steps and dragged 
me down. Thus, under the Lord's guidance, I passed through 
unobserved, glorifying God that I had not betrayed the people." 1 

When the Emperor Julian came to the throne he restored the 
exiled bishops to their sees ; and Athanasius returned for the third 
time to Alexandria (a.d. 362). But his energy in opposing paganism 
alarmed the new Emperor, and he had again to make his escape. 
His followers, full of grief, gathered round him. "Be of good 
heart," he said, "it is but a cloud, it will soon pass away." 
Finding a vessel lying near the bank of the Nile, he embarked to 
ascend the river to Thebes. But the Emperor had determined to 
take his life, and agents of the government were sent in pursuit. 
One of his friends contriving to outstrip the Imperial boat, brought 
him intelligence of the danger. His companions besought him to 
disembark and take refuge in the desert. He, however, directed the 
steersman to put the helm about, and return to Alexandria. They 

1 The two contemporary authorities and eye-witnesses differ slightly in the 
details. According to one of them, " The bishop was seized, fell into a swoon, 
and was almost torn to pieces. We do not know how he escaped, for they were 
bent upon killing him." 


were met by the government boat, and hailed : " Where is Athana- 
sius ?" " He is not far off," was the answer, uttered perhaps by 
Athanasius himself. Suspicion was not excited, and the vessel 
passed on. He reached Alexandria in safety, and remained con- 
cealed until the accession of Jovian in the same year, 363, restored 
him to his beloved flock. 

The Emperor Valens, influenced by the firmness of the Alexan- 
drians and by fear of Valentinian, suffered Athanasius to remain 
for a while in his see; but in 365 he was once more compelled to 
fly, and it is said that he lay hid four months in his father's tomb 
at the gate of the city. He was finally reinstated in 366, and his 
long and chequered life came to a peaceful close in his own house 
in 373. He had occupied the see of Alexandria forty-six years. 
Athanasius was small of stature, somewhat stooping, and emaciated 
by fasting and many hardships. His countenance was handsome 
and expressive, and his eye piercing, so that his presence inspired 
even his enemies with awe. 

Gibbon, who seldom bestows eulogy upon Christian heroes, loves 
to extol the character of the great Alexandrian divine. " The 
immortal name of Athanasius will never be separated from the 
Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, to whose defence he consecrated 
every moment and every faculty of his being . . . His pastoral 
labours were not confined to the narrow limits of Egypt. The 
state of the Christian world was present to his active and capacious 
mind ; and the age, the merit, the reputation of Athanasius, enabled 
him to assume, in a moment of danger, the office of Ecclesiastical 

To this, must be added Hooker's panegyric. "In Athanasius 
there was nothing observed throughout the course of that long 
tragedy, other than such as very well became a wise man to do, 
and a righteous to suffer. So that this was the plain condition of 
those times : the whole world against Athanasius, and Athanasius 
against it ; half a hundred of years spent in doubtful trial which of 
the two in the end would prevail the side which had all, or else 
the part which had no friend but God and death, the one a defender 
of his innocency, the other a finisher of his troubles." 

The writings of Athanasius are numerous, and have always been 
greatly prized by the Church. 1 His great mission, as we have seen, 

1 "When you meet with a saying of Athanasius," said Cosmas the monk in 
the sixth century, "and have not paper on which to copy it, copy it on your 
clothes." The creed which bears the name of Athanasius was not composed by 
him, nor even in his lifetime, but seems to have originated about the middle of 
the fifth century. 


was to uphold against the Arians the proper deity of the Son of 
God. " When the Arians maintained that the Son of God is only 
distinguished from other created beings by the fact that God created 
Him first of all, and then all other beings by Him, Athanasius 
answers : ' It is a narrow-minded representation that God should 
require an instrument for creation ; it is as though the Son of God 
came into existence only for our sakes. By such a representation 
we might be led to regard Him, not as participating immediately in 
the Divine Essence, but as requiring an intermediate agency for 
Himself. . . . If we do not stand in connection with God through 
his Son, as thus conceived of, we have no true communion with 
Him, but something stands between, and we are not his children in 
a proper sense. For as to our original relation to Him, we are 
only his creatures, and he is not in a proper sense our Father ; 
only so far is He our Father as we are placed in communion with 
Him through Christ. "Without this it could not be said that we are 
partakers of the Divine Nature.' . . . The Arians believed that 
they ought, according to the Scriptures, to pay divine honour to 
Christ : Athanasius charged them with inconsistency, seeing that, 
on their own showing, they thus become idolaters and worshippers 
of a creature. The Arians objected to the Nicene doctrine, that the 
idea of the Son of God cannot be distinguished from that of a 
created being, unless words are used representing Him with human 
attributes and affections. Athanasius replied that undoubtedly all 
expressions regarding the nature of God are symbolical, and have 
something of a human idea at their basis, and this we must 
abstract in order to come at a correct conception. This we do 
in the case of creation. In like manner we must abstract from 
the expressions Son of God, and Begotten of God, what belongs to 
human relations, and then there is left to us the idea of Unity of 

The opinions of Athanasius on violence and persecution deserve 
to be written in letters of gold. "Nothing more forcibly marks the 
weakness of a bad cause than persecution. Satan, who has no 
truth to propose to men, comes with axe and sword to make way 
for his errors. Christ's method is widely different. He teaches 
the truth, and says : ' H any man tcill come after Me and be my 
disciple ; ' when He comes to the heart He uses no violence, but 
says, ' Open to Me, my sister, my spouse.' If we open He comes 
in ; if we will not open He retires ; for the truth is not preached 
with swords and spears, not by bands of soldiers, but by counsel 
and persuasion. But of what use can persuasion be where the 
Imperial Ego dominates ? Or what place is there for counsel 


when resistance to Imperial authority must terminate in exile or 
death ? " 

Allusion has been made to the life, by Athanasius, of Anthony 
the Hermit. It is the first of a long series of saintly biographies, 
held in the highest esteem by the Church of Rome. The work has 
probably been interpolated by a later hand ; but, allowing for this, 
it is marvellous that the sagacious and powerful mind of Athana- 
sius should have given forth such a narrative, not indeed devoid of 
instruction, but mixed with so much of absurdity. It is only to be 
accounted for by the influence of superstition, even on the strongest 
minds, in an age when freedom of thought was not present to 
counteract it. Most of the biography is taken up in relating 
Anthony's encounters with the devil. The demonology of the 
monks was derived from the Neo-Platonists ; and "when the 
solitary had reduced his hated enemy, the body, to a skeleton, and 
thus weakened his understanding and inflamed his imagination, 
he was in a fit state to hear strange voices, and behold fearful 


The Cappadocian Bishops. 

The name of Gregory Thaumaturgus, bishop of Neo-Caesarea in 
Pontus, is familiar to the readers of the Early Church History. 1 
The fruit of his pastoral work is met with in the household of a 
Christian lady named Macrina, who, with her husband, concealed 
herself in the forests during the persecution under Galerius and 
Maximinus Daza. Their son Basil and his wife Emmelia had a 
family of ten children, and in the ordering of their household and 
the bringing up of their family, they diligently followed the 
example set them by their parents. It is related of the eldest 
daughter, who was named Macrina after her grandmother, that she 
knew the whole of the Psalms by heart, as well as many portions 
of the books of Solomon. 

Macrina was beautiful, and, being also rich, her hand was sought 
by many. In accordance with the custom of the age, the choice 
lay with her father, who selected a young advocate of gentle birth. 
Before the time came for the marriage, the young ' man died. 

i P. 192. 


Macrina possessed a soul of no common order, and regarding her 
betrothal as a virtual union, and her affianced husband as still 
living, though in a far-off land, to be joined to her again at the 
resurrection, she refused to listen to any further proposals of 
marriage. At her father's death, when she was about twenty-two 
years of age, the care of her widowed mother and of the younger 
children devolved upon her, and she even undertook the manage- 
ment of the family estates, which lay in three different provinces. 
She brought up her infant brother Peter, contracted eligible 
marriages for her four sisters, and, not disdaining household work, 
-she baked the bread for the family, and prepared her mother's food 
with her own hands. 

Basil, the first of the three subjects of this chapter, was next to 
Macrina in age, and was born a.d. 329. When a child, he was 
-sent to the country house of his excellent grandmother, from 
whom he received the germs of Christian instruction. " She 
taught me," he tells us, " the words of the most blessed Gregory." 
These early lessons and his father's teaching prepared him to enter 
into competition with boys of his own age at the grammar school 
in Csesarea, the chief city of Cappadocia, where he distinguished 
himself by his brilliant talents and exemplary conduct. From 
thence he was removed to Constantinople, and studied under the 
sophist Libanius, one of the most noteworthy defenders of expiring 
paganism. The tutor has recorded his admiration of the eloquence 
of the young Cappadocian, and of his self-restraint amid the temp- 
tations of the New Rome. 

On leaving Constantinople Basil repaired to Athens to drink 
philosophy at that ancient fountain-head ; and here also he had 
heathen preceptors for his guides, who still lectured under the 
colonnades or in the gardens where Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus 
once taught. 

At Athens Basil found a fellow-countryman of his own age, a 
native of Arianzus, a village or estate in the west of Cappadocia. 
This was Gregory Nazianzen, the second of our Cappadocian 
worthies. Like Basil, he was the child of pious parents. His 
father Gregory, bishop of Nazianzus, had belonged at the time 
of his marriage to a half heathen sect called Hyjisistarians (wor- 
shippers of the Most High), and had been won over to the Church 
by the persevering influence of his wife. This happened just when 
several bishops passed through Nazianzus to attend the council of 
Nicaea, and he was baptized in their presence. The credulity of 
the age invested his baptism with miracles and prophecies. Gre- 
gory's mother was Nonna, a woman of a masculine character, in 


whom religion was all powerful, but it was the religion of the age, 
narrow and formal. She had unlimited confidence in prayer, and 
had attained such mastery of her feelings that when affliction came 
she never uttered a lamentation till she had given thanks to God. 
She carried her notions of almsgiving to such an excess as often to 
say that she would gladly sell herself and her children to provide 
money for the poor. She was so exclusive that she would never 
shake hands with or kiss a heathen woman, or eat salt with an 

Gregory the younger was born about a.d. 330, and was dedicated, 
even before his birth, to the service of the Lord. Not many days 
after his birth his mother carried him to the church, and laid his 
infant hands on a volume of the Gospels. He used afterwards to 
compare himself to Isaac offered in sacrifice to God, and to Samuel, 
who was consecrated as a child by his mother Hannah. When old 
enough, he was, like Basil, sent to school at Neo-Csesarea, where, 
probably, the friendship between them commenced; and from 
thence successively to Csesarea in Palestine and to Alexandria. 
But his heart was set on Athens ; and though the time of year was 
unfavourable for a voyage, he hastened to quit Alexandria and sail 
thither. When the ship arrived off Cyprus, a violent storm arose ; 
the thunder, lightning, and darkness were accompanied by the 
creaking of the yards, the quivering of the masts, and piteous cries 
for help to Christ, even from some, as Gregory tells us, who had 
never before called upon his name. They had besides lost their 
store of fresh water, so that death from thirst or from shipwreck 
alike stared them in the face. A Phoenician vessel coming up, 
managed with great difficulty to supply them with water ; still the 
storm did not abate, and for many days their fate hung in the 
balance. It was not the fear of death itself which tormented Gre- 
gory ; but, in accordance with a frequent practice, his baptism had 
been deferred, 1 and death without baptism had come to be looked 
upon as the loss of heaven. Overwhelmed with the thought, he 
dedicated himself anew to God, and prayed for mercy and deliver- 
ance for himself and the ship's company. The prayer, as he tells us, 
was answered ; all on board were saved, and so affected by their 
deliverance that they received " spiritual as well as temporal 
salvation," which doubtless means that they underwent the rite of 

He arrived at Athens some time before Basil. The university, 
which had lost its ancient simplicity and freedom, was divided into 

See Early Church History, p. 245. 


rival schools, and it was the chief aim of the professors to spread 
their own fame and increase the number of their pupils. Fresh 
students were waylaid and fought for by the rival parties, and 
sometimes torn away from the very teacher whom they had come 
expressly to attend. 

The acquaintance between the two compatriots speedily ripened 
into an ardent friendship. Dissimilar in character, they were 
attracted to each other by their very dissimilarity : " Gregory, the 
affectionate, the tender-hearted ; Basil, the man of firm resolve and 
hard deeds." "They occupied the same chamber and ate at the 
same table. They studied the same books and attended the same 
lectures." "We knew," says Gregory, "only two streets of the 
city : the first and more excellent, that which led to the churches 
and the ministers of the altar ; the other, to the schools and the 
teachers of the sciences. The streets which led to the theatres, 
games, and other places of unholy amusement, we left to others. 
Holiness was our chief concern; our sole aim was to be called 
Christians, and to be such." 

Amongst the fellow-students of Basil and Gregory was Constan- 
tine's nephew, Julian, afterwards Emperor and well known by his 
surname of "the Apostate." The young prince attached himself 
to Basil, who responded to his advances. They united in the study 
of classic literature, and even read together in the Sacred Scriptures. 
Gregory, however, regarded Julian with suspicion, discerning, as 
he tells us, his true character in his incessant restlessness and 
hesitating speech, and in every feature of his countenance ; and he 
warned his fellow-students that that young man would one day 
bring evil upon the empire. 

Basil spent five years at Athens (a.d. 351-356). He had won a 
name in the university, and it was with pain he tore himself away, 
yet a conviction of the emptiness of the world, even under its 
noblest aspects, seemed to have taken possession of him, and he 
described Athens as " hollow blessedness." Gregory remained 
there a short time longer. 1 

Beturning to Caesarea, where his father resided, Basil commenced 
practice as a rhetorician. The success he met with and his college 
reputation filled him with vain and ambitious thoughts. He looked 
with contempt on his superiors in rank ; he adopted the airs of a 
fine gentleman ; and began to indulge in the pleasures of the city. 
His sister Macrina perceived his danger. Her loving heart was 

1 The school at Athens, which had stood 900 years, the last refuge of heathen 
teaching, was abolished by Justinian I., a.d. 529. Its seven remaining professors 
-went into exile and found protection with Chosroes, king of Persia. 

basil's conversion. 19 

deeply stirred at seeing her brother choose the broad way. But 
she was scarcely a wise counsellor for a young man in whose path- 
way the world had spread its snares. It is doubtful, indeed, if a 
wise counsellor was at that time anywhere to be found. The 
mistaken idea that in order to live above the world it was necessary 
to flee from it had been steadily gaining force ever since Paul and 
Anthony retired into the Libyan desert ; and, although monastieism 
had not yet been introduced into Asia Minor, the devout members 
of the Church were every where turning towards an ascetic life. It 
would have been a marvel if Macrina had escaped the general 
(Contagion. By her sisterly warnings she infused into her brother's 
soul the same disregard of earthly pleasures and distinctions, the 
same enthusiasm for self- mortification which ruled in her own 

The idea of a recluse life was not new to Basil. He and his 
ifriend Gregory had already, when at Athens, pledged each other 
one day to turn their backs upon the world. Nevertheless, Basil 
describes himself as awaking, under the effect of his sister's 
admonitions, out of a deep sleep, and in the light of Gospel truth 
discerning the folly of this world's wisdom to which he had begun 
to devote himself. Interpreting literally our Lord's words : " If 
thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, 
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me"; 
he at once resolved to give up his profession, and withdraw into 
solitude. Accordingly, about the year 357, he left Csesarea to visit 
the most renowned ascetics of Egypt and Syria. "Their abstinence 
and endurance, their mastery over hunger and sleep, their in- 
difference to cold and nakedness," excited in him the warmest 
admiration, accompanied by an ardent desire to imitate them. 
On his return he wrote to Gregory, reminding him of their mutual 
vow, and proposing they should withdraw together into the desert. 

Gregory had been two years at home since his return from 
Athens. His parents were advancing in age, and the duty which 
he owed to them weighed against the allurements of a life of prayer 
and meditation. He reflected also that the desert would not afford 
the opportunity which his studious disposition craved, for a critical 
acquaintance with the Scriptures. But, on the other hand, he 
longed to devote to God every faculty he possessed, and in his 
hours of contemplative abstraction the examples of Elijah and 
John the Baptist would present themselves, as most worthy of 
imitation. Evidently he did not understand that it is in the New 
Covenant only the Christian can find his perfect Exemplar ; that 
Christians are called " to go into the world with Christ, not out of 


it with Elijah and the Baptist." For a while Gregory sought to' 
reconcile the two conflicting influences, and attempted to live a 
hermit life in the midst of society. His food was bread and salt, 
his drink water, his bed the bare ground, his clothing coarse. 
Incessant labour filled up the day; prayers, hymns and meditations, 
a great part of the night. He condemned his former life ; the 
mirth in which he used to indulge now cost him many tears. He 
even gave up music, as being a gratification of the senses. But he 
soon found that the abstraction of mind required by this mode of 
life was incompatible with his domestic duties. " Many cares," he 
says, " fretted me by night and by day ; ruling servants was a very, 
network of evil ; and I could no more look after property, with its 
attendant plagues of tax-collectors and law-courts, than a man can 
approach a house on fire without being blackened and scorched by 
the smoke." In this state of mind he replied to Basil's letter, by 
proposing that the latter should join him at Arianzus. Basil 
accordingly made him a visit. But the place disgusted him, for he 
found it cold and damp and intolerably muddy, to use his own 
words, "the very pit of the whole earth." 

By this time Basil's family had settled on the ancestral estate in 
Pontus, beside the river Iris, the spot where he himself had passed 
his childhood. Here his sister Macrina and her mother converted 
their household into a religious sisterhood, to which the daughters 
of the noblest families in the province resorted. Basil was not slow 
to perceive the superiority of the brotherhood to the solitary life. 
M God," he writes, " has made us like the members of our body, 
dependent on one another's help. What discipline of humility, of 
pity, or of patience can there be if there be no one for whom these 
duties are to be practised? Whose feet wilt thou wash ; to whom 
wilt thou be as a servant ; how canst thou be last of all, if thou 
art alone ? " Here unhappily he stopped. God, who made man to> 
live in society, gave him also marriage, and set him in families ; 
and has revealed Himself to us through that endeared relation of 
Father, which the Church of the fourth century presumptuously 
denied to her priests and her elect children. If, instead of placing 
himself at the head of a retrograde movement, and trying to give it 
a more practical direction, this man of commanding talents and 
unbending will had taken his stand on the New Testament, aud 
withstood the popular current altogether, he might have conferred 
priceless benefits on his own and succeeding ages. 1 

1 Basil was not actually the first to introduce monachism into Asia Minor ; 
he was preceded by the Arian, Eustathius of Sebaste. On his return from the 
East, Basil joined himself to some disciples of this bishop, the counterpart of 

basil's charming retreat. 21 

The spot which Basil selected for his monastery was in the 
immediate neighbourhood of his mother's religious house, but on 
the opposite bank of the river. It was not a dreary wilderness, 
like the Egyptian deserts, but a charming retreat, such as every 
lover of nature might covet. " God has shown me," he wrote to 
his friend Gregory, " a region which exactly suits my mode of life ; 
it is in truth what in our happy hours we often dreamed of. That 
which imagination pictured in the distance I now see before me. 
At the foot of a high mountain, covered with thick forest, spreads 
out a wide plain, plentifully watered, and enclosed by a belt of 
many kinds of trees, almost thick enough to be a fence. On two 
sides deep ravines serve as a protection, whilst on a third the 
mountain torrent, which breaks upon the wall of projecting rock, 
and rolls foaming into the abyss, forms an impassable barrier. 
From my cottage on the summit I overlook the plain and the 
windings of the Iris. Shall I go on to describe the fragrant smell 
of the meadows, the refreshing breezes from the water, or the vast 
numbers of song-birds and flowers ? In all these another might 
take delight ; but as for me, my mind is not at liberty to enjoy 
them. To me the greatest charm of this retreat is the quiet that 
reigns here. Eemote from the tumult of the city, its silent repose 
is ouly now and then broken by a solitary hunter, who is in 
pursuit, not of bears or wolves, but of the deer, the roe, and the 
hare." 1 Even here, however, Basil could not escape from himself. 
In another letter he writes : " What I do in this solitude I am 
almost ashamed to say. I have abandoned my residence in the 
-city, as being the source of a thousand evils, but myself I cannot 
leave behind. I am like voyagers unaccustomed to the sea, who, 
when attacked with sickness, leave the large ship because of its 
violent rolling, and descend into a little boat, but find no relief. 
Thus I, too, bearing about with me my inherent passions, have 
made but little spiritual progress by virtue of my solitary life." 

In the Fade which Basil instituted for the government of his 
monastery, and which still regulates the cloisters of the Greek 
Church, industry was combined with devotion. It was a common 

the ascetics whom he had seen in Egypt and Syria ; but when he discovered 
they were the followers of a "heretic," he left them, concluding that they were 
" unsanctified hypocrites." 

1 The Iris runs through a valley some miles to the west of Neo-Csesarea (now 
contracted into Niksar), with a fine mountain region between. Although the 
.site of the monastery has not been identified, the description of the region by 
modern travellers answers to Basil's picture. " No description is adequate to 
jaint the brilliancy and luxuriance of vegetation and the picturesque forms." 


proverb : A laborious monk is beset by one devil, an idle monk by 
a legion." By the labour of Basil's monks many a barren tract 
was converted into corn-fields and vineyards. His rule was severe. 
His monks wore coarse garments (seldom washed), a belt, and shoes 
of raw hide; their hair uncombed, their looks downcast. 1 One 
meal only a day was allowed, of bread, water, and beans without 
salt. "With us," wrote Basil to the Emperor Julian, "as is- 
becoming, the cook's art has no place; our knives never touch 
blood ; our daintiest meal is vegetables with coarse bread and half- 
sour wine." 2 The night, as well as the day, was divided into- 
definite portions, and the intervals of sleep filled up with prayers 
and psalmody. 3 Basil himself had but one outer and one inner 
garment ; he slept in a hair shirt, with the ground for his bed, and 
never made use of a bath. But Basil's rule was more than severe. 
Like the pattern which he found in Egypt, it was an outrage 
against humanity. "It is the devil's craft," he says, "to keep 
alive in the mind of the monk a recollection of his parents and 
kinsfolk, so that under colour of aiding them he may be diverted 
from his heavenly course." And when some (for there seem to- 
have been a few reasonable men still remaining) pointed to Paul's- 
words, " If any provide not for his own, and specially his own 
household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an un- 
believer," Basil, with perverse ingenuity, answered, that Paul 
speaks here to the living, not to the dead ; whereas a true monk is, 
as regards all secular obligations, a dead man. The solitude of the 
cell was looked upon as the very essence of the Christian life. 
With a singular ignorance of human nature he declares : " Solitude 
puts to sleep the vicious motions of the mind, and leisure affords a 
way of extirpating them altogether." Intercourse with women was 
especially prohibited. It was forbidden to speak with, or even to 
look at them, except in cases of extreme necessity. But the rule 
did not stop even here. " Shun the society of young men of thy 
own age" (such is Basil's injunction to the novice); "flee from 
them as from a burning flame ; if thou leave thy cell, thou leavest 

1 Gregory's pattern of the true monk agrees with Basil's: "Vigils, fasts, 
prayers, tears, smitings of the breast, standing the night through, the mind- 
going forth to God ; disordered hair, feet naked in imitation of the Apostles, 
neglected clothing, unwandering eyes." 

2 Basil, however, was still human. " Send me some fine pot-herbs," wrote 
Gregory Nazianzen to a friend, who, with Basil, was about to pay him a visit, 
41 if thou dost not wish to see Basil hungry and cross." 

8 " If any one is cross on being awaked, what punishment is he to have ? 
At first, separation and deprivation of food ; but if he continue insensible, let 
him be cut off as a diseased limb." Shorter Rule. 


thy virtue." "What sort of virtue," asks Isaac Taylor, "is that 
which evaporates the moment it is exposed to daylight?" Girls 
were not allowed to profess hefore their sixteenth or seventeenth 
year ; any irregularity fallen into hy those who devoted themselves 
after this age, was punished with inexorable severity. 

Basil aimed at making the cloister a school for the priesthood. 
He held the strange opinion that the austerities of monastic 
discipline were the best training for the Christian ministry ; and 
when he became bishop he ordained scarcely any but monks, 
preferring those who carried self-mortification to the greatest 
extreme. 1 

The alluring picture which Basil drew of his retreat brought 
Gregory to his side. They prayed, toiled, fasted, and sang psalms 
together, and studied the Scriptures and Origen. Prior to Augustine, 
no one of the Fathers exercised so powerful a spell overmen's minds 
as did Origen. 2 Admired by some as the first of Christian philo- 
sophers, shunned by many as a dangerous heretic, anathematized 
by councils, the shibboleth of rival theologians, it was at the 
copious well-spring of Origen's intellect that ardent, youthful 
spirits slaked their thirst for knowledge. Gregory and Basil culled 
from his works a selection of choice passages, which they named 
Philocalia (Love for the Beautiful). 

Possibly, however, at this time Gregory may have found Basil's 
cloister life somewhat severe, for on his return home he wrote his 
friend a bantering epistle. " With Homer let us ' sing the garniture 
within,' to wit, thy dwelling roofless and doorless; the hearth 
without fire or smoke ; walls nevertheless baked enough lest the 
mud should trickle down on us while we suffer Tantalus' penalty 
thirst in the midst of water. And that beggarly fare for which 
thou called me from Cappadocia ! I shall never forget the broth 
and the bread ; bread so hard that the teeth made no impression, 
and when they did effect an entrance were set fast as in a paste. 
Unless that true lady-bountiful, thy mother, had promptly come to 
my help, I had been dead long ago. Nor can I omit that misnamed 
garden, void even of pot-herbs; or the Augean heap which we 

1 Chrysostom herein differed altogether from Basil. " The monk," he writes, 
"lives in a calm, where there is little to oppose him. The skill of the pilot, 
cannot be known till he has taken the helm in the open sea in rough weather. 
Too many of those who have passed from the seclusion of the cloister to the 
active sphere of the priest or bishop, have lost their head; and often, instead of 
adding to their virtue, have been deprived of the good qualities which they 
already possessed. Monasticism often serves as a screen to failings which 
active life draws out, just as the qualities of metal are tested by fire." 

1 See Early Church History, pt. ii., c. 4, &c. 


cleared off and spread over it ; or how, in levelling a rugged bank, 
we dragged that heavy cart full, thou the gentleman, and I the 
vintager, with neck and hand which still bear the marks of my toil." 

Finding that Basil did not take his pleasantry altogether in good 
part, Gregory wrote again : " "What I wrote before concerning thy 
Pontic abode was in jest, not in earnest ; but now I write very 
much in earnest. Who shall give me back those psalmodies and 
vigils, those prayers which transported us from earth to heaven, 
that life which seemed to have nothing in it of material or corporeal ? 
that I could live again the sweet time we spent in the study of 
the divine oracles, and enjoy the light which, through the guidance 
of the Spirit, we found in them. Or let me speak of lower things, 
the bodily labours of the day, gathering the wood and quarrying 
the stone, the planting and the draining. And especially of that 
golden plane-tree, more honourable than that of Xerxes, under 
which, not a pleasure-sated king, but a weary monk did sit, planted 
by me, watered by Apollos (that is thy excellent self), and made by 
God to grow up to my honour, and as a monument of our mutual 

Basil's reputation for sanctity attracted to him so large a number 
of devotees that his retreat quickly assumed the appearance of a 
town. He also repeatedly made missionary journeys through 
Pontus, and everywhere there sprang up conventual houses of 
both sexes for the joint practice of industry and piety. In these 
institutions children were taken charge of, slaves protected, soli- 
taries received, and (most mistaken charity !) a home made for 
married persons who imagined they were serving God by living 
apart. By his means also hospitals and other homes of beneficence 
were founded. 

In a.d. 860 the Emperor Constantius used all his authority to 
obtain the signatures of the bishops to the Arian confession of 
faith, known as the creed of Ariminum (Kimini). Gregory's father 
was one of those who yielded, but afterwards, through the influence 
of his son and of the monks of his diocese, who were devoted to 
Athanasius, he made a public confession of orthodoxy. Dianius, 
bishop of Csesarea, also gave way. Basil, who, like Athanasius, 
regarded it as the great mission of his life to uphold the Trinitarian 
faith, was grieved beyond measure at his bishop's weakness, and 
refrained from all communion with him. When, however, two 
years afterwards, Dianius was stricken for death, he entreated Basil 
to come to him and comfort his dying hours. The aged bishop 
expired in Basil's arms, protesting with his last breath that he had 
never intentionally departed from the Nicene faith, and that it was 


in the simplicity of his heart he had given his adherence to the 
Arian creed. 

Shortly before the death of Dianius, Julian ascended the throne, 
a.d. 361. It was the desire of the new Emperor to surround him- 
self with the associates of his early days ; and he invited Basil to 
come at once to court. Basil was at first disposed to accept the 
invitation, but when he found that Julian had turned his back 
upon the Christian faith, and was preparing to restore paganism, 
he refused. 1 Julian was deeply offended, and determined to be 
revenged. Hearing that the citizens, so far from apostatising with 
himself, and building new heathen temples as he had commanded, 
had pulled down the only one still standing the Temple of 
Fortune ; he expunged Csesarea from the catalogue of cities, and 
inflicted severe penalties on the clergy and the wealthy inhabitants. 
He even demanded of Basil a fine of a thousand pounds' weight of 
gold. Basil, in his reply, reminded the Emperor of the time when 
they two studied the Holy Scriptures together, and upbraided him 
with the folly of requiring so vast a sum from one who had not 
enough even to buy himself a meal. The Emperor was further 
exasperated by another occurrence. Eusebius, a distinguished 
layman, was chosen bishop in the place of Dianius, mainly through 
the exertions of Basil and Gregory. The choice, which was 
opposed by many of the neighbouring prelates, was offensive to 
Julian, who grudged the Church the possession of so able a citizen, 
and vowed that when he should return in triumph from his Persian 
campaign he would reserve the two friends, " as Polyphemus did 
Ulysses," for his latest victims. He did not live to return, but 
was slain in the expedition. 

Basil had soon to repent of the part he had taken in the election 
of Eusebius. The new bishop, desiring to avail himself of Basil's 
theological knowledge and intellectual power to compensate for his 
own deficiencies, obliged him, against his will, to receive ordination 
as a priest. Shortly before, in 362, Basil's friend Gregory had also 
been, by his father's authority and the will of the people, driven or 
entrapped into the priesthood. The perversion of the Christian 
ministry to a sacerdotal office, and the mistaken notions derived 
from the old Eastern religions, regarding the mortification of the 
body, made Gregory shrink with extreme dread from ordination. 
"I felt myself unequal to this warfare, and therefore hid my face 

1 The student of history may recollect the two laconic epistles which passed 
between the Emperor and Basil. Julian: "I have read, I have understood, 
I have condemned." Basil : " Thou hast read, but not understood ; for if thou 
hadst understood, thou wouldst not have condemned." 


and slunk away. My body of humiliation wages an eternal war 
with my passions. I toss to and fro through the senses and the 
delights of life ; I stick fast in the deep mire ; the law of sin wars 
against the law of the spirit, and tries to efface the royal image in 
me. Before we have subdued with all our might the principle 
which drags us down, and have duly cleansed the spirit, and have 
much surpassed others in approach to God, I consider it unsafe to 
undertake the cure of souls or the mediatorship between God and 
man, which belong to a priest." When to his conscientious 
scruples was added the forced manner of his ordination, which 
appeared to him nothing less than an act of spiritual tyranny, it 
was more than he could support, and leaving his new charge 
he betook himself to Pontus (a.d. 362), to seek consolation from 
his old friend. The Nazianzen Church was offended at Gregory's 
flight, and on his return demanded from him a public apology. He 
set himself to answer in a manner worthy of the occasion. The 
result was one of those eloquent discourses which have made his 
name famous as a master of Christian oratory. 1 

To return to Basil. A rupture soon broke out between himself 
and the new bishop. The latter was not only his inferior in worth, 
but was far less popular; and when, envious of his superiority,. 
Eusebius treated Basil with coldness, if not with insolence, the latter 
might easily have wrested the episcopal authority out of his hands. 
Basil, however, had the prudence to withdraw from the contest, 
and shut himself up in his monastery in Pontus. Here he remained 
till 365, when the arbitrary measures adopted by the Emperor 
Valens for the spread of Arianism, brought him back to Caesarea. 
Through Gregory's mediation he became reconciled to Eusebius,. 
and gave him his powerful support in this hour of common need. 
The Arians assumed a threatening aspect, but Basil compelled them 
to leave the city. The insurrection of Procopius at Constantinople, 
which just then broke out, prevented Valens for the moment from 
taking his revenge ; and Basil had time to organise his defence. 
He also exerted himself to mitigate the suffering from drought and 
famine by which, in the year 368, Cappadocia was laid waste. He 
gave up the property which had recently come to him at the death 
of his mother, persuaded the rich merchants who had bought up 
the corn to open their stores, set on foot a public subscription, and 
himself superintended the distribution of bread to the starving 

1 The discourse is practically a treatise on the pastoral office, and is a store- 
house whence Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, Bossuet, and other orators o 
various times have drawn their ideas. 


In 370 Eusebius died. Basil saw that the cause of orthodoxy 
in the province depended upon his own elevation to the vacant see. 
The election of a bishop in the great cities had come, since the 
accession of Constantine, to be an affair of State, a matter of 
great political no less than ecclesiastical importance, and where 
parties ran high, it was often accompanied by tumults and blood- 
shed. 1 

In this instance the prize to be contended for was of no common 
value. The bishop of Caesarea was the possessor of power reaching 
far beyond the limits of the city itself. He was metropolitan of 
Cappadocia and exarch of Pontus. 2 In the latter capacity his 
authority, more or less defined, extended over more than half Asia 
Minor, and embraced eleven provinces. Basil, beloved and popular 
as he was, felt, nevertheless, that his election was insecure. The 
people generally with the clergy and monks were on his side, but 
the rich chafed under his ceaseless calls to charity, the authorities 
dreaded the displeasure of the Arian Emperor Valens, and the 
neighbouring bishops were jealous of his superior reputation and 
abilities. Instead of leaving the matter in the hands of Him who- 
alone has the right to appoint his shepherds, Basil began to devise 
measures for the accomplishment of his purpose. He sent for 
Gregory, but, fearing that if his friend were apprised of the real 

1 In the contest for the see of Eome, in a.d. 366, between Damasus and 
Ursicinus, a sanguinary street war was waged. Damasus, it is stated, followed- 
by a furious mob, forced his way into the churches, and trampled down all 
opposers. After this, with a band of gladiators, he seized the Lateran Basilica, 
where he was ordained; and, having bribed the magistrates, caused his- 
opponent to be sent into exile. The people would have hindered him from 
taking possession of the episcopal chair, but he cleared his way through them 
with blows ; and then, with the ecclesiastics of his faction, joined by gladiators,, 
charioteers, and armed rustics, besieged one of the churches where the adverse 
party were assembled. Setting fire to the doors, he forced his way in, slew 160' 
persons, men and women, and wounded many. "Notwithstanding all this," 
adds Roberts, "Damasus was a saint, and miracles were ascribed to him after 
his death ! " How widely the Church had departed from the apostolic rule in 
the election of its officers, even where such outrages were unknown, let 
Chrysostom declare. "The elections are generally made on public festivals, 
and are disgraceful scenes of party feeling and intrigue. The clergy and the- 
people are never of one mind. The really important qualifications for the office 
are seldom considered. Ambitious men spare no arts of bribery or flattery to 
obtain places. One candidate for a bishopric is recommended to the electors, 
because he is of a noble family ; another, because he is wealthy and will not 
burden the funds of the Church ; a third, because he is a deserter from the- 
opposite party." 

2 As metropolitan he had fifty country bishops under him. The term exarch, 
was nearly synonymous with that of patriarch. 


nature of the business he might shrink from undertaking it, he 
stooped to employ artifice. As though he were on his death-bed, 
he wrote, begging him to come and receive his last commands. 
The wretched maxim that deceit and falsehood are permissible when 
religion is to be promoted, was fast taking root in the Church. 1 

As soon as he received the letter Gregory prepared to go to his 
friend's help, but before he set out he discovered the deception which 
had been put upon him. He protested against the fraud, refused 
to come to Caesarea, and urged Basil to leave the city until the 
election was over. Such affairs, he told him, were not managed by 
men of piety, but by active and popular agents. But Basil was not 
thus to be deterred ; he turned from the son to the father, the aged 
bishop of Nazianzus. Convinced that the cause of orthodoxy was 
involved in Basil's election, the old man roused himself for the 
occasion. Using his son as his amanuensis, he dictated two letters 
one to the clergy and people of Caesarea, calling on them to lay 
aside party feeling and choose Basil as bishop; the other to the 

electing prelates, reminding them (as Basil's state of health had 
been made an objection) that they were not choosing an athlete, but 
a spiritual teacher. He also wrote to a bishop of wide influence, 
Eusebius of Samosata, urging him to visit Caesarea and undertake 
the direction of this difficult business. Eusebius found the city 
in a state of distraction, but his influence and tact overcame all 
obstacles. Even the bishops yielded, or rather pretended to do so, 
for when the time came for the consecration, two of them only 
were found willing to join in it. The rule of the Church required 
three. 2 But if the adverse party hoped in this way to nullify the 
election, they were disappointed. The aged Gregory, though 
scarcely able to stand, caused himself to be lifted from his bed and 
carried in a litter to Caesarea. With his own hands he consecrated 
the newly-elected prelate, and placed him in his episcopal chair. 

We now follow Basil from his cell on the Iris to his throne in 
the capital of Pontus. His election filled the orthodox everywhere 
with exultation. Athanasius, then seventy-four years old, and 
nearing the end of his course, congratulated Cappadocia on pos- 
sessing a bishop whom every province might envy. At Constanti- 
nople the news was received with far different feelings. Valens 

1 In his Rule, Basil took a higher standard than in his own practice. He 

enjoined truthfulness to the exclusion of expediency even for a good end, 
adducing the words of Christ (John viii. 44). 

2 The fourth canon of the Council of Nicaea directs that, if possible, a bishop 
should be ordained by all the bishops of the province, but that in any case 
three, at least, should be present. 


regarded it as a serious check to his designs for the triumph of 
Arianism. Basil was not an opponent to be despised ; if he could 
not be made to bend, he must be got rid of. 

Basil had hoped that his friend Gregory would become his co- 
adjutor in this new office, but he was disappointed. Gregory, whose' 
affection appears to have been somewhat cooled by Basil's trickery, 
expressed satisfaction at his election, but excused himself from 
joining with him in public life ; and although after a while he 
yielded to his importunity and went to Caesarea, it was only to- 
refuse all Basil's public attentions and marks of dignity, and soon 
to retire again to his quiet home at Arianzus. 

For some years Basil's episcopal rule was troubled by those 
bishops who had opposed his election. They withheld their 
sympathy and help, and delighted in thwarting his plans. One of 
them was his own uncle, who had filled a parent's place to him on 
his father's death, but who from some cause had left him and 
joined the party of opposition. Basil's younger brother Gregory, 
distinguished by the surname of Nyssen, interposed his offices to- 
effect a reconciliation ; but the means which he adopted were 
the worst that could have been devised. He, too, seems to have 
been imbued with the fatal error of the age, and to have supposed 
that a pious end justifies fraudulent means. He wrote forged 
letters to Basil in his uncle's name. The fraud, which was quickly 
discovered, only had the effect of widening the breach between the- 
uncle and nephew. Neither would take the first step towards 
reconciliation ; the former standing upon his prerogative of age and 
relationship, the latter on his rank as a metropolitan dealing with 
his suffragan. In the end, however, the more noble part in Basil 
prevailed, and he wrote his uncle a letter of affection and duty.. 
The old man had only waited for this, and peace was restored 
between them. 

Geegoey Nyssen is the third in our trio of Cappadocian bishops. 
He was two years younger than his brother Basil, and was of a 
retiring disposition. He had his brother's feebleness of constitution 
in a still greater degree, but did not possess the same strength of 
mind. As a youth, the observances of religion as then practised,, 
had but little attraction for him. Martyrs' festivals were greatly 
in vogue ; and his mother Emmelia having come into possession of 
some relics of the Forty Martyrs (soldiers who were said to have 
suffered in Armenia under Licinius, a.d. 320), appointed a solemn 
festival for the translation of the same to a chapel adjoining her 
nunnery. High service, to which the whole country had been 
invited, was held in her garden throughout the night. She sent to- 


"Caesarea for her son Gregory to take part in the ceremonial. He 
obeyed the summons, but with so little goodwill that he passed the 
night asleep in an arbour. Whilst thus sleeping he had a dream, 
in which he saw himself beaten by the martyrs with their rods, 
and almost shut out from the garden. Terrified by this vision, and 
full of remorse for the dishonour he had done to God's saints, he 
determined to devote himself to the Church, and undertook the 
office of reader. Soon wearying, however, of his new vocation, he 
^relapsed into the world and became a professor of rhetoric. He 
-also married, and his wife is described asa" very worthy lady, full 
of piety and good works." His friends were deeply grieved at his 
defection, and Gregory Nazianzen, who had extended the friend- 
ship he had for Basil to this younger brother, adjured him in the 
strongest terms to retrace his steps, styling his desire of worldly 
distinction, a "demoniacal ambition." Nyssen was not deaf to 
these entreaties. After some struggles, he resolved to quit the 
"world, abandon his virtuous wife, and betake himself to his brother 
Basil's monastery. Here he passed several years, studying the 
-Scriptures, and composing a treatise on Virginity, in which he 
laments most poignantly what he looks upon as the fatal error, by 
which, as by a wall or gulf, he had for ever separated himself from 
that angelic state of perfection ! 

It was towards the close of his residence in the monastery, 
a.d. 371, that Gregory Nyssen so unhappily essayed to effect the 
reconciliation of his brother with their uncle. On the discovery of 
the deceit, Basil wrote him a letter of severe rebuke. He ridicules 
him for his simplicity, upbraids him with his unbrotherly conduct, 
and although, as we have seen, Basil himself had been guilty of 
the same thing, reproaches him with endeavouring to serve the 
cause of truth by deceit ! 

To return to Basil. In 371 the Emperor Valens divided Cappa- 
-docia into two provinces, making Tyana the capital of the new 
division. Anthimus, bishop of that city, choosing to consider that 
the ecclesiastical rule should follow the civil, claimed metropolitan 
jurisdiction over it in the place of Basil, and began to appropriate 
its revenues. To such a course Basil was not the man tamely to 
submit. He summoned his friend Gregory Nazianzen to his side. 
Gregory wrote in reply, " I will come if thou wishest : if so be that 
the sea wants water or Basil a counsellor, I will come. At all 
events, I am ready to bear ill-usage in thy company." In the scene 
which followed, the parties on both sides figure in a manner un- 
becoming to the Christian ministry. As soon as Gregory arrived, 
the two friends set out together for a monastery on the Taurus 

basil's arbitrary conduct. 81 

range, situated in the severed province, to receive the produce of 
an estate which, up to this time, had belonged to the see of Cassarea. 
As the rents were paid in kind they took with them a train of 
sumpter-mules. Anthimus, hearing of the expedition, hastened, 
full of wrath, to intercept the convoy. Notwithstanding his ad- 
vanced age, he put himself at the head of a band of armed retainers, 
whom he stationed at a defile near Sasima, through which the 
train had to pass on its return. An affray ensued ; Gregory was 
injured, and Basil had his mule taken from him, 

To strengthen himself against his rival, Basil determined to 
erect two new bishoprics as defensive outposts on that frontier of 
his diocese, and to fill them with the two Gregorys. The onerous 
duties of a bishop were, however, distasteful to them both, and so 
reluctant were they to abandon their retirement and enter upon 
public life, that in each case compulsion had to be used before they 
would suffer the ordaining hands to be laid upon them. But Basil 
was one of those men who, when they have a clear sight of their 
object, will make their way to it at any sacrifice ; and when Gregory 
Nazianzen took to flight to avoid consecration, he even went so far 
as to pursue and bring him back. Gregory was deeply wounded. 
At his ordination he gave vent to his feelings, in these plaintive 
words : " Once more has the Holy Spirit been poured out upon me, 
and once more I enter upon my calling, sad and dejected." 

The new bishoprics were Sasima and Nyssa. The latter, over 
which Basil placed his brother, was an obscure town, so insigni- 
ficant, that Eusebius of Samosata wrote to remonstrate against a 
man of such talents being thus buried. Basil replied that his pur- 
pose was to make the see famous by its bishop, not the bishop by 
the see. The choice of Sasima for Gregory Nazianzen was still 
more unworthy. It was a mean village or posting-station, situate 
within the new province of Tyana. The revenues of the Church 
were meagre, and it was a spot in the highest degree distasteful to 
the sensitive nature of Gregory, who, in one of his poems, has left 
us a description of it somewhat caricatured. " On a highway of 
Cappadocia, at a point where three roads join, is a halting-place 
where is neither water nor anything green, nor any mark of civi- 
lization. It is a frightful and detestable village. Everywhere you 
meet nothing but noises, dust, waggons, howls, groans, chains, 
instruments of torture, and the executioner. The whole population 
consists of foreigners and travellers. Such was my church of 

Basil was universally censured for appointing Gregory to such a 
place. Finding him slow to enter upon his office, he sent his 


brother of Nyssa to quicken his resolution. Gregory Nazianzen 
prepared to obey, but hearing that Anthimus had appointed a rival 
bishop to the see, he retired from the contest. Basil reproached 
him for his pusillanimity. Gregory could bear no more. Loving 
and gentle as he was, his whole soul recoiled against these repeated 
insults, and he thus poured forth his wounded feelings: "Wilt 
thou never cease to slander me, merely because I am bold enough 
to recognise how I have been treated ? I know now the deception 
thou hast practised upon me, which I can no otherwise explain, 
than that thy elevation to the episcopal throne has suddenly lifted 
thee up. . . . The most charitable accuse thee of making use of 
me, and then casting me aside, just as the framework of an arch, 
as soon as the structure is completed, is struck away and counted 
good for nothing. ... I am not going to arm myself and learn 
the art of war, in order to fight the martial Anthimus. Fight him 
thyself; or if thou art in want of warriors, wait till he surrounds 
the pass and lays hold of thy mules. To what purpose is it that I 
should fight for sucking-pigs and chickens, and these not my own, 
as if they were men's souls and Church canons. . . . Sweep every- 
thing into thy own lap, as the rivers do the mountain torrents, to 
swell thy own glory ; so long as thou dost not set friendship and 
intimacy above right and piety." From this moment the confiding 
friendship which had subsisted between Basil and Gregory ever 
since their boyhood was broken. Basil, indeed, went once again to- 
Nazianzus to visit Gregory ; but so far as appears, no more familiar 
letters passed between them. After Basil's death Gregory endea- 
voured to offer an apology for his friend's conduct, but the attempt 
only shows how incurable was the wound. In his funeral oration 
over him he says : " Admiring as I do, all he did more than I can 
express, I cannot praise his extraordinary and unfriendly conduct 
towards me, the pain of which time has not removed. To this I 
trace all the irregularity and confusion of my subsequent life. 
Unless, indeed, I may be suffered to make this excuse for him, that 
having views beyond this earth, he slighted friendship, only when 
it was his duty to prefer God, and to make more account of the 
things hoped for, than of the things that perish." 1 

It is doubtful whether Gregory ever entered upon the bishopric 
of Sasima ; but at his father's urgent request he became his coad- 
jutor in the see of Nazianzus, a.d. 372. How much every call to 
public service cost him may be seen by a sermon which he preached 

1 Church historians have been so tender of Basil's reputation that we have 
been obliged to consult Gregory's original epistles to complete the story. 


at this time. " Between my inward longing and the Holy Spirit, 
I am almost torn asunder. The one urges me to fly to the solitude 
of the mountains, to withdraw from all sensuous things, and to 
retire into myself, that I may commune with God undisturbed. 
But the Spirit would lead me into active life to serve the common 
weal, to spread light, and present to God a people for his 
possession, a royal priesthood." 

It was a year or two before this happened, namely, in 371, that 
Basil found himself engaged in a personal encounter with the 
Arian Emperor Valens. The Emperor had entered upon his 
theological crusade against the Catholics, and was on his march 
through the provinces of Asia Minor. For awhile his progress was 
one of uniform victory. " The Catholics had everywhere fallen 
before him. Bithynia had resisted, and had become the scene of 
horrible tragedies. The fickle Galatia had yielded without a 
struggle. The fate of Cappadocia depended on Basil. His house, 
as the Emperor drew near, was besieged by ladies of rank, high 
personages of state, even by bishops, who entreated him to bow 
before the storm and appease the Emperor by a temporary sub- 
mission." But Basil had no ear for such counsels; he rejected 
their entreaties with disdain. The arrival of Valens was preceded 
by a band of Arian bishops, aiming to strike awe into their 
opponents by their numbers, but Basil straightway refused to hold 
communion with them. They were followed by officers of the 
Imperial household, who threatened him in violent language. One 
of these was Demosthenes, the chef de cuisine, whom the Emperor 
carried everywhere with him, but to whom Basil paid no attention 
except to bid him return to his kitchen fire. Another was Modestus,. 
the prefect of the Pretorium : 

Modestus. What is the meaning of this, thou Basil (not deigning 
to style him bishop), that thou standest out against so great a 
prince ? 

Basil. What dost thou mean ? 

Modestus. Thou dost not worship after the Emperor's manner,, 
although the rest of thy party have yielded. 

Basil. Such is not my Heavenly Sovereign's will, nor can I 
worship any creature. 

Modestus (amazed). For whom dost thou take me ? 

Basil. For a thing of nought while thy commands are such. 

Modestus. Is it, then, nothing to have men of rank like us on 
your side ? 

Basil. Thou art a prefect, and illustrious, I grant ; but God's 
Majesty is greater. It would be an honour to have thee on my 



side, but yet no more so than to have any member of my flock ; 
for Christianity consists not in distinction of persons, but in faith. 

The prefect was enraged at this reply, and rising from his chair, 
abruptly asked Basil if he did not fear his power. 

Basil. Fear what ? 

Modestus. Any one of the many penalties a prefect can inflict. 

Basil. Let me know them : confiscation, exile, tortures, death? 
None of these can move me. 

Modestus. How so ? 

Basil. That man is not obnoxious to confiscation who has 
nothing to lose, except old tattered garments and a few books. 
Nor does he care for exile who is not circumscribed by place, but 
is everywhere at home on God's earth. Nor can torture harm a 
frame so frail that it would break under the first blow ; and death 
would be gain. 

Modestus. No one ever yet spoke to Modestus with such 

Basil. Peradventure Modestus never before met with a true 
bishop. prefect, in other things we are gentle, and more humble 
than all men living, but when God's honour is at stake we overlook 
all else. Fire and the sword, beasts of prey, irons to rend the 
flesh, are an indulgence rather than a terror to the Christian. 
Therefore threaten, insult, do thy worst, make the most of thy 
power. Let the Emperor be informed of my purpose. 

Finding threats useless, Modestus tried promises and flattery, 
but with no better success. He had to report to his master that 
all his attempts to bring Basil to submission had been fruitless. 
Such rare intrepidity produced its natural effect on the feeble 
mind of Valens. He refused to sanction harsh measures against 
the bishop, and even condescended to present himself in the chief 
church of Caesarea on the Feast of the Epiphany. The service had 
already commenced. When the Emperor, in the glowing words 
of Nazianzen, "heard the chanted psalms which rose like a peal of 
thunder, and beheld the sea of worshippers within and around the 
sanctuary, ranked in an order so comely as to resemble angels 
rather than men, and the bishop himself standing, like Samuel, 
erect before the people, body, eyes and soul, absorbed in God and 
the altar, and the priests on either side in reverential awe the 
Emperor's spirit forsook him, and he swooned away." Gregory 
says that Valens had never before beheld such a spectacle. This 
can hardly have referred to the service itself, for that would surely 
be as imposing in the cathedral church at Constantinople. It was 
rather the oneness of purpose and spirit by which the assembly was 


animated, their love to Basil and their devotion to the Nicene 
faith. It must be remembered, too, that the Trinitarians were at 
that period the Nonconformists, and that persecution had weeded 
from their ranks the nominal and the lukewarm. Add to this the 
sight of the bishop himself as he stood before the altar tall, spare, 
erect, with hollow cheeks and piercing eyes, and armed as he con- 
ceived with the majesty of heaven. When the time eame for 
Valens to make his offering, and the ministers were hesitating 
whether they should receive an oblation from the hand of a heretic, 
Basil came forward, and himself accepted the gift. 

The next day Valens again visited the church, and was admitted 
by the bishop within the sacred veil. The cook, Demosthenes, 
rudely joining in the conversation, made a grammatical mistake. 
Basil smiled, and quietly observed: "We have here, it seems, a 
Demosthenes who cannot speak Greek ; he had better attend to his 
sauces than meddle with theology." The retort amused the 
Emperor, who was so well pleased with his theological opponent, 
that he made him a grant of land on which to erect a poor-house. 

But the favourable impression thus made on Valens soon wore 
off. The Arian bishops recovered their influence, and an imperial 
order was issued for Basil to quit the city. He was to start at 
night, to avoid the risk of popular disturbance. The chariot was 
at his door, and his friends, Gregory amongst them, were bewailing 
his departure, when he was stopped by an imperial messenger sent 
in consequence of the sudden illness of the Emperor's only son. 
The Empress attributed their child's danger to the Divine dis- 
pleasure at the treatment of Basil, and the Emperor sent to entreat 
Basil to come and pray over the sick child. On condition that it 
should be brought up in the orthodox faith, Basil consented. As 
he prayed, the child grew better. 1 But the Arians contrived that it 
should be baptized by one of their own bishops. The child (so the 
historians relate) grew immediately worse, and died the same 
night. Basil's enemies, however, were not even now in despair ; 
they returned once more to the attack, and with the usual result. 
His exile was again determined on ; but when Valens attempted to 
sign the order, the pens, it is declared, refused to write, and thrice 
split in his hand ! This supposed miracle put an end to all further 
proceedings. " Valens left Cassarea, and Basil remained master of 
the situation." 

Thus left free to devote his energies to the internal administration 

1 The prefect Modestus also, who fell sick, attributed his own recovery to the 
prayers of Basil. 


of his diocese, Basil set himself vigorously to the correction of the- 
abuses which had grown up within it. He was an energetic 
promoter of morals, good order, and discipline. He had, however, 
no thought of bringing back the worship and government of the 
Church to its primitive pattern ; rather were the superstitious 
practices of the time strengthened, and the authority of the bishops, 
enhanced under his rule. In his own province he usurped the 
control of episcopal elections, and even travelled into Armenia to 
appoint new bishops and infuse fresh life into those who were 
already in office. His incessant labours were performed under the 
pressure of extreme bodily weakness, so that, even when considered 
in health, he describes himself as being "weaker than persons who- 
are given over." 

Basil's heaviest trial was yet to come. A suspicion of his 
orthodoxy was artfully and successfully propagated throughout the 
Churches. He was unjustly accused of denying the proper 
divinity of the Holy Spirit. 1 This brought great odium upon him. 
In his extremity he turned first to Athanasius, whom he designates 
" that great and apostolic soul who from boyhood had been an 
athlete in the cause of religion," and then to the Western Church. 
The former was unable to assist him ; the Western bishops sent 
assurances of attachment and sympathy, but nothing more. They 
could not move without the bishop of Borne ; and the bishop of 
Borne was offended, because Basil did not appeal to him as 
supreme. This assumption of superiority was lost on Basil ; he 
only remarked, it was in vain to send messages to " one who sat 
aloft, high and haughty, and would not listen to the truth from 
men who stood below." 

Even whilst he lay under the imputation of heterodoxy, Basil 
did not relax in the conflict he was always waging against Arian- 
ism. "Polytheism," he writes, "has got possession. A greater 
and a lesser God are worsbipped. All ecclesiastical power, all 
Church ordinances, are in Arian hands. Arians baptize ; Arians- 

1 Fear of Sabellianism restrained Basil for some time from committing him- 
self entirely to the Homo-ousion doctrine. His usual form of doxology was 
"Glory be to the Father through the Son, in the Holy Spirit." On which 
Hooker remarks : " Till Arianism had made it a matter of great sharpness and 
subtilty of wit to be a sound believing Christian, men were not curious what 
syllables or particles of speech they used. When St. Basil began to practise the- 
like indifferency, and to conclude public prayers, glorifying sometime the 
Father with the Son and the Holy Ghost, sometime the Father by the Son, in 
the Spirit, . . . some (because the light of his candle too much drowned theirs) 
were glad to lay hold on so colourable a matter, and were exceedingly forward 
to traduce him as an author of suspicious innovation." 


visit the sick ; Arians administer the sacred mysteries. The pious 
are banished ; the houses of prayer are closed ; the altars for- 
bidden ; the orthodox meet for worship in the deserts, exposed to 
wind and rain and snow, or to the scorching sun." 

Before his death, however, Basil was permitted to see the dawn 
of a brighter day. A new invasion of the Goths in 377 drew off 
Valens from the persecution of the orthodox ; the next year his 
army was defeated with immense slaughter near Adrianople, and 
tbe Emperor himself perished. His successor, the youthful 
Gratian, belonged to the Catholic party, and one of his first acts 
was to recall the banished orthodox prelates. So that, before his 
death, Basil had the joy of seeing many of his friends restored to 
their sees. 

Basil died January 1, a.d. 379, at Ca3sarea. Although only fifty 
years old, his constitution was completely worn out. His death- 
bed was surrounded by the citizens, " willing if so it might be," 
says his friend Gregory, " to give a portion of their own lives to 
lengthen that of their bishop." He breathed his last with the 
words, " Into thy hand I commend my spirit : Thou hast redeemed 
me, Lord God of Truth." His funeral was attended by immense 
crowds, who almost tore the bier to pieces to secure a relic of the 
departed saint. " The press was so great that several persons were 
crushed to death ; almost the object of envy, because they died with 

Basil was pale, and wore a beard ; through life he retained his 
monkish dress. In speech he was deliberate, in manner reserved 
and sedate. His friend Gregory especially commends his trumpet 
eloquence, his great and various learning, his charity, his com- 
passion, his affability. " Who," he exclaims, " more loving than 
he to the well-conducted? who more severe with transgressors? his 
smile was praise, and his silence a reproof to the uneasy conscience. 
If he were not full of talk, or a jester, or a boon companion, what 
then ? This, with men of sense, is not his blame, but his praise. 
Yet, that he was most agreeable in social intercourse, I who knew 
him so well can testify. None could relate a story with more wit ; 
none maintain the sport of words so playfully ; none convey the 
timely hint with greater delicacy." 

Basil is often called The Great, as much on account of his 
writings as of his character. 1 The following passage will serve as a 

1 He has left nearly 400 letters. Dr. Jessopp thus compares the three great 
letter-writers of this age, Augustine, Jerome, and Basil. " St. Augustine's can 
*eally hardly be called letters at all ; they are for the most part treatises on the 


specimen of his style : " The love of God cannot be taught. We 
did not learn from any one else to take pleasure in the light, nor to 
desire life. No one taught us to love our parents or our nurses. 
Thus, or rather far more, the learning of the love of God comes not 
from without, but a certain seminal power of reason is ingrafted in 
us, which possesses from its own store the means of that appropria- 
tion which leads to love. Which power the school of the divine 
commandments takes in hand, tills with care, nourishes with skill, 
and, by the grace of God, brings to perfection. . . . We naturally 
love the beautiful (though to different persons different things may 
seem beautiful), and we delight to display all good to those who do 
us good. Now what more admirable than the Divine Beauty? 
What conception more attractive than the Majesty of God ? What 
longing so vehement and irresistible as that which is engendered of 
God in the soul which is purged of vice, and which cries out of un- 
feigned desire, ' I am sick of love ? ' . . . Alienation and aversion 
from God is worse than any torments of hell. It is as the privation 
of light to the eye, even if no pain be present ; or as the deprivation 
of life to a living thing. . . . Our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured 
a most shameful death that he might restore us to the glorious life, 
exacts no recompense, but is satisfied if he be only loved for what 
he gave. And when I think of all these things, I am in an ecstasy 

interpretation of sacred Scripture, or on theological or philosophical questions. 
... In St. Jerome's we have some valuable notices of the religious life of the 
time, and we get a most curious impression of the awfully high pressure at 
which devout people were living at the close of the fourth century. The men 
and women are not men and women, but creatures who are trying to be some- 
thing else and who believe themselves to be something else. Jerome himself is 
up in a balloon, and he seems to assume that everybody else is, or ought to be, 
or wishes to be, or is trying to be up in a balloon too. . . . St. Basil's letters are 
very much less known, but they are far more real, genuine, human, and inter- 
e sting than those of Augustine and Jerome. They have a wide range of 
subjects, and his correspondents were people of all ranks and classes and 
opinions pagan philosophers and professors, governors of provinces, ladies iu 
distress, rogues who had tried to take him in, and, of course, a host of bishops 
and clergy. . . . He can laugh and be playful witness his letter to the 
governor of Cappadocia, who had cured himself of an illness by dieting himself 
on pickled cabbage. ' My dear sir,' says Basil, ' I am delighted at the news. I 
never believed in cabbage before, still less in pickled cabbage ; but now I shall 
praise it as something superior to the lotus that Homer talks of yea, not 
inferior to the very ambrosia that served as the food of the gods ! ' The 
governor answered that letter very briefly, and his answer has been preserved- 
4 My right rev. brother,' says the governor, ' you are right, there's nothing like 
pickled cabbage ! Twice to cabbage kills so the saying has it. I find, many 
times to cabbage cures. Come and try. Dine with me to-morrow on pickled 
cabbage that and nothing more ! '" 


of fear lest ever, through inattention of mind or occupation with 
vanities, I should fall from the love of God and become a reproach 
to Christ. . . . The reproach which our fall will bring on Christ, 
and the glorying of the enemy, seem to me worse than the punish- 
ments of hell." 

We must now go back a few years. It was only in condescension 
to his father's will that Gregory Nazianzen consented to become 
his coadjutor. On his father's death, however (which took place in 
374), he continued to administer the see until a new bishop was 
elected. During these years some of his most brilliant discourses 
were delivered. He was sensible, however, of the worthlessness of 
mere words, and at last announced to his congregation that he had 
resolved not to preach before them again, in order that by his 
silence he might "check the mania for theological discussion, which 
was leading everybody to teach the things of the Spirit without the 
unction of the Spirit." 

Suddenly, in 375, Gregory disappeared. He had retired to a 
monastery in Isauria, where he remained three years in strict 
seclusion. He returned home before Basil's death, but was taken 
so dangerously ill that he could neither visit him on his dying bed 
nor be present at his funeral. Like Basil, he had become prema- 
turely old. Though only fifty years of age, his bald head bent 
towards his bosom, and his countenance was wasted by tears and 
fasting, and furrowed with wrinkles. With characteristic melan- 
choly he writes to a friend : " Thou inquirest how I am ; I answer, 
very ill. ' My spiritual brother [Basil] and my natural brother 
[Caesarius] are both gone. Age shows itself on my head; my 
cares multiply ; friends prove untrue ; the Church is without shep- 
herds ; good is disappearing ; evil shows itself bare-faced. We are 
journeying in the night ; there is nowhere a torch to give us light ; 
Christ is asleep. What, then, is to be done ? Alas for me ! there 
is only one escape, and that is death! " 

Bat there was work yet for Gregory to do, and that on a higher 
stage than before. For fifty years Arianism had been dominant in 
Constantinople. The adherents of the Nicene faith had dwindled 
down to a small number, and were without church or bishop, being 
obliged to conceal themselves in the remote quarters of the city. 
The accession of Gratian restored their courage. Looking round 
for a pastor, they cast their eyes on Gregory, whose praise for 
eloquence and sanctity was in all the Churches ; and they sent 
him an urgent appeal to take charge of their little flock. Long he 
remained unwilling to quit his beloved retirement, but at length 
he yielded to the conviction that the time for action had arrived ; 


and he turned his face towards the great city. His opinion of the 
state of the Church there is conveyed in a few words : "It had 
passed through the death of infidelity : there was left but one last 
breath of life. What the people needed was solid teaching to 
deliver them from the spider-webs of subtleties in which they had 
been taken." Nevertheless, on some points the teaching of the 
Arians was more enlightened than that of the Catholics. Sir Isaac 
Newton remarks that before Gregory came to Constantinople, the 
city was free from that superstitious reverence for the martyrs with 
which it shortly after began to be inflamed. 

Gregory began his work in a private house ; but the building 
quickly became too small for the multitudes which flocked to it, 
and a church was erected in its place. To this church he gave the 
name of Anastasia (Resurrection, i.e. of the true faith). Here he 
delivered a fresh series of those discourses which have made his 
name famous. The success of his preaching raised up a host of 
enemies, who envied whilst they affected to despise him, even 
ridiculing his person and attire. 1 A fierce attack was made upon 
his church during the hour of service. From the Arian cathedral 
of St. Sophia there issued a motley crowd of monks, beggars, and 
women more terrible than men. The assailants made free use of 
stones, sticks, and firebrands. The altar was profaned, the con- 
secrated wine was mixed with blood, the house of prayer was made 
a scene of outrage and unbridled licentiousness. Personally, 
Gregory cared little for the assault; stones, he said, were his 
delight ; his care was only for his flock. 

In the year 880 (Nov. 26) Theodosius made his entry into Con- 
stantinople. One of his first acts was to remove the Arians from 
the churches and restore these to the orthodox. To Demophilus, 
the Arian bishop, was offered the alternative of subscribing the 
Nicene Creed, or of resigning his office. Demophilus did not 
hesitate a moment. Assembling his followers in the cathedral, he 
said : " My brethren, it is written in the Gospel, ' If they persecute 
you in one city, flee ye into another.' Seeing that the Emperor ex- 
cludes us from the churches, we will henceforth hold our assemblies 
without the city." Towards Gregory, the Emperor manifested the 
greatest respect. On his way to the cathedral he conversed with 
him for a long while, and, as though anticipating what was about 
to take place, concluded with these words : " This temple God 
delivers to thee by our hand as a reward for thy devoted labours." 

When the day arrived on which the orthodox were to take pos- 

1 "I was," he says, "the very image of a beggar." 


session of the churches, the city was violently agitated ; cries of the 
most opposite kind filled the air, some shouting with joy, many 
more ventiDg their grief and disappointment in tears and threats. 
The Emperor, in warlike state, and followed by an imposing train, 
proceeded to the Church of the Apostles, which he had caused to 
be strongly guarded. Gregory was at his side, breathing feebly 
from a recent fit of sickness, but full of confidence and thankful- 
ness. The streets through which the procession marched were 
crowded with an innumerable multitude of either sex and of every 
age. The windows and roofs of the houses were thronged, and a 
tumultuous sound arose, in which grief and rage predominated, so 
that, as Gregory himself describes it, " the city resembled a place 
which had been taken by storm, and was in the hands of some 
barbarian conqueror." The morning was gloomy; a thick fog 
filled the church. The Arians began to exult in this sign of 
heaven's displeasure, and the orthodox were dispirited, when (so 
Gregory relates), at the first accents of the chants, the sun broke 
forth and shone upon the vestments of the priests and the swords 
of the soldiers, reminding him of the glory which descended upon 
the ancient tabernacle. At the same time a cry arose from the 
congregation, " Gregory shall be our bishop." Unable himself to 
speak from bodily weakness, he desired another priest to address 
the people in his name: "Silence, silence; this is the time to 
give thanks to God ; it will be time enough hereafter to settle 
other matters." 

The following year Theodosius convened a general council of 
Oriental bishops at Constantinople. The chief objects were to 
confirm the Nicene faith, aud to appoint a bishop for the metro- 
polis. Although the orthodox were especially invited, other 
parties, in the hope thereby of promoting union, were admitted ; 
but when the Nicene confession was presented to the synod for its 
adoption, the Semi-Arian bishops, of whom thirty-six were present, 
refused to subscribe, and left the city in a body. The wish of 
Theodosius, that Gregory should be bishop of Constantinople, was 
well-known ; and no opposition being made in the council, he was 
elected. The inaugural oration was preached by his friend Gregory 

Nazianzen's enjoyment of his lofty position was of the very 
briefest duration. 1 Hardly had his consecration taken place than 
the bishops began to repent of their choice. His homely manners 
and ignorance of the world offended them, and they characterised 

1 He was actually bishop only a few weeks. 


as lukewarmness the tolerance he showed to the now persecuted 
Arians. But this was not all. It was a time of bitter party 
spirit and great confusion. Meletius, bishop of Antioch, who 
presided over the council, held his bishopric only by a compromise 
between two contending parties. He died whilst the council was 
in session, and the question who should be his successor in the see 
of Antioch, rent asunder the Asiatic Church and the council itself. 
Gregory, by virtue of his office, had become president of the 
council. He was no party man, and his endeavour to preserve 
peace between the two parties was misinterpreted and resented ; 
he was, indeed, of too gentle a nature to govern the ship in such a 
storm. At this crisis there arrived from Egypt and Macedonia a 
fresh party of bishops, who objected to Gregory's appointment to 
the see of Constantinople, alleging that, having been formerly con- 
secrated to the see of Sasima, he could not now (according to the 
15th canon of the Council of Nicaea) fill any other. 1 In vain did 
Gregory and his defenders reply that this law, if not already anti- 
quated, had been superseded by the act of the council itself. The 
opposition only became fiercer, and Gregory saw that there was 
nothing left but to resign his episcopate. He delivered an address 
to the council, in which he sought to pour oil upon the troubled 
waters. Its only effect was to call forth a universal uproar, the 
younger ecclesiastics especially venting their ill-will towards him,, 
"like screaming jackdaws or a swarm of angry wasps." 2 He 
wound up his speech with these words : "I now request permission 
to resign my bishopric, and to lead, if a more inglorious, yet a 
more peaceful life." Once again he appeared before the council, 
and exhorted them to occupy themselves with matters worthy of 
their high calling, and to cherish mutual harmony. " He was 
ready to be another Jonah to calm the angry waves. He owed but 
one debt, the debt of death, and that was in God's hands. He had 
but one anxiety, and that was for his beloved doctrine of the 
Trinity." From the council he went to the Emperor, who reluc- 
tantly consented to accept his resignation. 

It was hard to tear himself away from his beloved flock. They 
entreated him not to leave them. "Who," they asked, "will 
nourish thy children, if thou shouldst forsake us?" He took a 
public farewell of the congregation, at which the council were 
present ; and although the cathedral was filled to every corner, not 
a dry eye was to be seen. " Farewell" so he wound up his cele- 

1 This canon forbade the translation of bishops. 
'Elsewhere he compares them to "cranes and geese," and says it was a 
* disgrace to sit amongst such hucksters of the faith." 


brated but floral oration " farewell my beloved church, Anastasia,.. 
by which the true faith has been raised up. And thou, too, more 
majestic temple, our new possession, which hast now first received, 
thy true greatness from the true preaching of the everlasting Word. 
. . . Farewell, Holy Trinity, my sole thought, my only jewel ; 
may this my people keep Thee, and mayest Thou preserve them.. 
Cherish, my children, the truth I have committed to you, and 
remember the persecutions I have endured for its sake. . . . The 
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all ! Amen." 

Sorrow for the loss of his church was, however, tempered by self- 
gratulation on his escape from the atmosphere of the court. " Never 
more shall I be entertained at the tables of princes, bashful and 
speechless, not breathing freely, feasting like a slave. No magis- 
trate shall again punish me with a seat either near him or below 
him, giving the higher place to some grovelling spirit. No more 
shall I clasp bloodstained hands, or take hold of beard, to gain 
some small favour. No more, hurrying with a crowd to some 
birthday, burial, or marriage feast, shall I seize on all I can, some- 
thing for myself, something for my attendants, with their greedy 
palms, and then late in the evening drag home my ailing carcase 
worn out with fatigue, and panting with satiety." On his way 
home to his native village he preached his memorial oration over 
the grave of Basil. 

Once again in his beloved retirement, Gregory partially re- 
covered his shattered health. There was at Arianzus a little 
garden with a shady walk and a fountain, which he had reserved 
to himself when all his other property was given to the poor. Here 
he soothed his irritated spirit, and half forgot the turmoil and 
vexations of the great city. " If any of our friends," he writes r 
** should inquire what Gregory is doing, say that he is enjoying in 
perfect quiet a philosophical life, and that he troubles himself as 
little about his enemies as he does about persons of whose existence 
he knows nothing." 

From his solitude he sent forth to his friends messages of 
sympathy, both in their joys and in their tribulations. Although 
he had himself renounced marriage, and had always extravagantly 
extolled the virgin state, yet we find him in his declining years 
entering into hearty sympathy with a young friend in the prospect 
of marriage. " Thy beloved is now thine ; the moment of your 
union has arrived; and I who ought to have been present, and 
taken part in the solemn service, am obliged to remain at a 
distance. Several times I have made the attempt to set out, but 
have always been overcome by sickness. It must be for others to 


invoke the genius of love (for playful mirth becomes the nuptial 
festival), and paint the beauty of the bride and the manliness of 
the bridegroom. Nevertheless, I will sing you my marriage song : 
* The Lord bless you out of Zion, and grant harmony upon your 
union. Mayst thou see thy sons (thy sons' sons, I was ready to 
say) still nobler than thyself.' " 

The next year, 382, he was invited in the Emperor's name to 
attend a synod at Constantinople. He thus replied : "To tell the 
truth, I am in such a temper of mind that I shun every assemblage 
of bishops, because I have never yet seen a good issue to any synod, 
have never been present at any which did not do more for the 
multiplication than it did for the suppression of evils. An in- 
describable thirst for contention and rule prevails in them ; and a 
man who dares to lift up his voice against what is base in others, 
will be far more certain to bring down reproach upon himself than 
to succeed in removing such baseness." 

The spread of the Apollinarian heresy 1 alarmed the clergy and 
people of Nazianzus, and they entreated Gregory to return thither 
and help them. Very reluctantly he yielded to their importunity, 
and for a short time administered the affairs of the diocese. But 
his bodily weakness returned, and as soon as he could induce the 
neighbouring prelates to consecrate a new bishop, he withdrew 
again from public life, and spent his last six years in seclusion. 
He was not idle, however, but continued to occupy himself with 
the various interests which surrounded him, political, ecclesiastical, 
.and personal. In the mortification of the body, to which he had 
devoted himself from early life, he suffered no relaxation to over- 
take him in old age. But these austerities failed to bring him 
peace. To the burden of a weak and suffering body was often 
added a spiritual agony so great as to take from him all hope both 
for this world and the next. At other times, faith lifted him above 
his tribulations, and he could say : " I suffer and am content, not 
because I suffer, but because I am for others an example of patience. 
If I have no means to free myself from pain, I gain from it at least 
the power to bear it, and to be thankful, as well in sorrow as in 
joy ; for I am convinced that, although it seems to us the contrary, 
there is in the eyes of the Sovereign Beason nothing opposed to 
xeason in all that happens to us." 

He died a.d. 389 or 390, aged about 60 years. 

In Gregory's preaching, the lessons of practical religion are 
never lost sight of. He often sets before his hearers the danger of 

1 See below, Period II., Chap. I. 


empty talkativeness about divine things, and disputation on theo- 
logical questions, to which they were addicted. He taught that 
true piety consists in doing God's will, and that the knowledge of 
God is attainable only in proportion as the soul is purified from 
the defilement of sin. 

In toleration of heretics Gregory was before his age. His counsel 
in dealing with such breathes the true Gospel spirit: "Do not 
rashly condemn thy brother ; to condemn and despise is nothing 
else than to shut out from Christ the sole hope of sinners. It is 
the same as pulling up with the weeds the hidden fruit which 
is possibly of more value than thou art. Eaise up thy brother 
gently and lovingly, not as an antagonist, not as a physician who 
administers medicine by force, or knows of no remedy but 
cauterising and cutting. Learn rather to know thyself in the 
spirit of humility, and to search out thy own infirmities. It is 
not one and the same thing to pull up or destroy a plant and a 
man. Thou art an image of God, and thou hast to do with an 
image of God ; thou who judgest wilt thyself be judged. ... In 
our Father's house are many mansions, and the ways which lead 
to them are various." Hear how he speaks to some who denied 
the divinity of the Holy Spirit : " Such is the love I cherish for 
you, such the respect I feel for your becoming attire, your 
abstemiousness, your holy societies, the honour you pay to vir- 
ginity, your nightly psalm-singing, your love of the poor, your 
brotherly kindness, your hospitality, that I could even wish 
myself accursed from Christ if ye were but united with us." At 
times, however, the old bitter feeling against the Arians, so long 
triumphant over the Catholics, will break forth ; so that if we had 
no other evidence than Gregory's writings, we should pronounce 
the whole party to be utterly base and diabolical. 

Gregory's pensive spirit was especially open to the sweet in- 
fluences of Nature. Thus he writes in spring: "How beautiful 
is everything that meets the eye. The meads send forth their 
fragrance ; the plants bud ; the young lambs frisk on the green 
plains. The bee now leaves her hive, spreads her wings, displays 
her sagacious instinct, and robs the flowers of their sweetness. All 
creation praises and glorifies God with inarticulate voice. Yes, it 
is now [in allusion to the Easter festival] , the spring of the world, 
of the souls of men as well as of their bodies, the visible and the 
invisible spring, the same which we shall taste above if we are 
transformed and renewed here." Again, during a time of trial in. 
his ministry at Constantinople, he tells his hearers : "As the day 
was declining I wandered alone by the sea-shore, for I was 


accustomed to disperse my cares by this kind of diversion ; for the 
, string will not bear to be always on the stretch, but must occasion- 
ally be loosened from the bow's end. Thus I wandered, my feet 
.moving mechanically, whilst my eye swept over the expanse of 
waters. But it was not then as when the purple waves roll gently 
forward and break softly on the shore, for, to use the words of 
Scripture, ' the sea had arisen, by reason of a great wind that blew.' 
The billows, as they approached from a distance, increased in size, 
reared their crests, and discharged themselves on the beach with a 
thundering sound. But, roar as they might, the rocks stood 
unmoved, regardless of the waves that broke against them. As 
I gazed I thought a profitable lesson was to be learnt from the 
sight, and how I might apply it to my own state of mind, when, 
as has recently happened, some untoward occurrence has burst 
upon me." 

Notwithstanding his rich Christian experience, Gregory was 
steeped in the superstitious spirit of the age. At Constantinople, 
as already remarked, he revived the practice of keeping birthday 
festivals, and pnblicly returned thanks to the martyrs for having so 
triumphantly assisted the true believers in their recent victory. We 
shall treat this subject more fully by-and-by. 

The annexed passage from his Oration on the Nativity will convey 
an idea of his power to soar into the regions of abstract thought. 
"God ever was, and is, and will be. Or rather, He ever is; for 
the terms was and will be are portions of our fleeting duration and 
transient nature, but He always is ; and thus He designated Him- 
self when He appeared to Moses on the mount. For He comprehends 
in Himself all existence without commencement, without end, as it 
were a boundless and unfathomable ocean, rising above every con- 
ception both of time and nature. He is shadowed forth by the 
intellect alone, and that most obscurely and imperfectly, and not 
from the things which are inherent in Him, but from those which 
move around Him. Ideas collected from all parts of the creation 
combine to form a faint image of the Truth, which escapes before 
it is seized, and flies before it is understood, beaming for an instant 
on our mind, as the evanescent lightning glances on our sight ; in 
order, as I suppose, that by the small portion which is compre- 
hended it may allure us to itself (for that which is wholly in- 
comprehensible is unhoped for and unattempted) ; and by what is 
unapprehended, may be admired ; and being admired, may be loved 
the more ; and being loved, may purify ; and purifying, may render 
4is divine." 

Another passage, less abstruse, will close this notice of Gregory. 


" Christ was born indeed on the earth ; but in his supernal 
nature He had been begotten. He was born of a woman indeed, 
but she was a virgin. If this was natural, that was preternatural. 
He was without a father in his earthly geniture, and without a 
mother in his heavenly generation. . . . He was oppressed with 
hunger, yet He fed thousands in the desert ; and He is the living 
and celestial bread. He was parched with thirst, yet He cried 
aloud, ' If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.' He 
was weary, yet is He the rest of those who are weary and heavy- 
laden. He paid tribute, obtained miraculously from a fish, whilst 
He ruled over those to whom He paid the tribute. ... He wept, 
but He made tears to cease. Because He was a man, He asked 
where Lazarus was laid ; but He raised Lazarus from death, be- 
cause He was God. He was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He 
bought the world at an inestimable price : for He bought it with 
his blood. He who drinks vinegar and is fed with gall, is He who 
converted the water into wine, who has destroyed the bitterness of 
death, who is altogether sweetness, the desire of the heart. He dies, 
yet He gives life ; and dying, He destroys death." 1 

We left Basil's brother Gregory newly installed in his bishopric 
of Nyssa. This, it may be remembered, was in the reign of the 
Arian Emperor Valens. A full share of the troubles of the time 
fell to Gregory's lot, aggravated, it would seem, by an inaptitude on 
his part in dealing with men. The Imperial cook Demosthenes, 
whose acquaintance we have made, was appointed vicegerent of 
Pontus, with the understanding that he was to do all in his power 
to crush the adherents of the Nicene faith. Gregory was one of 
those who felt the weight of his tyrannical hand, and refusing to 
appear before a synod which was summoned to hear charges against 
him, he was deposed and banished, a. d. 376. In his exile he be- 
wailed the cruel necessity which had compelled him to leave his 
spiritual children, and also dwells pathetically on the home of 
which he had been deprived his fireside, his table, his pantry, his 
bed, his bench, his sackcloth, contrasting it with the stifling hole 
in which he was now forced to dwell, of which the only furniture 
was straitness, darkness, and cold. But he took comfort in the 
assurance that his brethren would remember him in their prayers. 

On the death of Valens in 378, as already related, Gratian 
recalled the exiled bishops ; and to the joy of the faithful, Gregory 
was restored to the see of Nyssa. His return was a triumphal 
progress. The inhabitants of the villages through which he passed 

1 See a similar passage from Hippolytus in Early Church History, pp. 159. 


poured forth to meet him, and escorted him along the road with 
acclamations and tears of joy. In the town the crowd was so 
dense as to impede his progress, and when he approached a church, 
a stream of flame poured into it from the multitude of lighted 
tapers, borne before him by the virgins who had come to welcome 
back their beloved bishop. 

The happiness of Gregory's return was, however, short-lived. 
Beside the severe labour and anxiety entailed upon him by the 
confusion consequent on the long reign of Arianism, he had to 
mourn the death of his brother Basil and his sister Macrina. It 
was many years since Gregory had seen his sister, and when at last 
he was able to visit her (in Pontus), he found her " hopelessly ill 
of fever, with parched lips, and drenched with cold sweats. She 
was stretched on a couple of planks on the ground, one of them 
being sloped to support her head and shoulders, the wood barely 
covered with a piece of sackcloth. Her pallet faced the east. On 
her brother's approach she made an effort to rise and do him honour 
as a bishop ; Gregory prevented her. With great self-command 
she restrained her groans, checked her asthmatic pantings, and, 
putting on a cheerful countenance, endeavoured to comfort her 
brother, who she saw was full of grief. When she spoke of Basil's 
death, Gregory broke down ; but she rebuked him for sorrowing as 
those who have no hope," and in a rapturous spirit discoursed on 
the resurrection and the immortality of the soul. " Seeing he was 
weary, she sent him into the garden to rest in an arbour. The 
following day she employed her little remaining strength in con- 
soling, animating, and instructing him. Then she prayed : " Thou, 
God, has taken from me the fear of death. Thou hast granted 
me that the end of this life should be the beginning of true life . . . 
Remember me in thy kingdom; forgive whatsoever I have done 
amiss. Beceive my soul without spot into thy hands as a burnt 
offering before Thee.' At last her voice failed; only her lips 
moved ; she signed herself with the cross, gave a deep sigh, and her 
spirit took its flight." Round her neck was found an iron cross, 
and a ring containing a particle of the " True Cross." She was 
buried by her brother in the grave of her parents, in the chapel of 
the Forty Martyrs. After her death many miracles were said to 
have been performed at her tomb. 1 

After settling some difficulties at home, Gregory undertook, by 

1 Texier says that in the village Melebuhi, in Cappadocia, a few miles from 
Nyssa, the inhabitants, who are Greeks, still worship Saint Macrina, whose 
bones are supposed to lie in the neighbourhood. Possibly Gregory transported 
them thither ; his own name is nearly forgotten. 


the desire of the Council of Antioch, 1 a long and toilsome journey 
to Babylon. He found the church in that city in a deplorable state. 
The people had "grown hardened in heresy, and brutish in their 
manners ; lying was more natural to them than to speak the truth." 
His labour for their reformation seems to have met with but little 
success. 2 

During the half-century which had elapsed since the pretended 
discovery by the Empress Helena of the "True Cross," pilgrimages 
to Jerusalem had become frequent. On his way home Gregory 
visited the Holy City, the Emperor placing at his disposal one of 
the imperial carriages. Of this vehicle he made " both a monastery 
and a church," where he and his retinue kept up their daily fasting, 
psalmody, and hours of prayer. He visited Bethlehem, Calvary, 
the Mount of Olives, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But 
although largely imbued with credulity and superstition, his faith 
received no confirmation from what he saw. His conscience was 
shocked by the gross immorality prevailing in the Holy City itself, 
which he describes as a sink of all iniquity. The evil was aggra- 
vated by Arian influences, to counteract which all his efforts were 
ineffectual. He returned home depressed and sorrowful. In letters 
written soon afterwards, he records his sense of the evil of pil- 
grimages. He points out that pious ladies travelling lonely roads 
with male attendants lay themselves open to suspicion ; that tho 
inns are notorious for dissolute conversation and loose manners; 
and that robbery and violence are not infrequent, even in the Holy 
Land itself, whose moral state he describes as infinitely below that 
of Cappadocia. He asks, moreover, whether a man will believe 
Christ's virgin-birth the more by seeing Bethlehem, or his resur- 
rection by visiting his tomb, or his ascension by standing on the 
Mount of Olives. " Change of place," he wrote to a Cappadocian 
abbot, "brings God no nearer; God will come to thee if only the 
inn of thy soul is ready for Him." 3 

a.d. 379. 

* From the time of Cyrus, Babylon rapidly declined ; and at the commence- 
ment of the Christian era, the greater part of the city was in ruins. It con- 
tinued to exist a few centuries longer, when it sank into the condition predicted 
by Isaiah, ch. xiii. 19 22. 

3 The pilgrims carried back with them water from the Jordan, earth from the 
Redeemer's sepulchre, and chips from the True Cross. Many even visited 
Arabia to behold Job's dunghill ! But the East was not the only quarter to 
which pilgrimages were made. Chrysostom lamented that want of time and 
health prevented him from going to Borne to kiss the chains of Peter and Paul, 
which " make devils tremble and angels rejoice." Jerome, however, though on 
his return to Bethlehem after one of his journeys, he quickened his steps that 



Two years later he attended the Council of Constantinople, where, 
as already said, he delivered the oration on the enthronement of 
Gregory Nazianzen. The last mention we have of him is his 
presence at a synod held in the same city, a.d. 394, which was 
probably not long before the close of his life. 


Ulfilas. 1 

Hitheeto we have traced the course of some of the most gifted 
leaders in the Christian Church within the pale of Eoman civilisa- 
tion. It was within the empire that Christianity was founded and 
established, and for a long time its organisation did not extend far 
beyond the frontiers. But a change was now coming over the 
existing civilisation. " All that is expressed by the words Christian 
and Teutonic is coming in; all that is expressed by the words 
Pagan and Eoman is dying out. . . . The Teuton rent away the 
provinces of the empire ; but, in rending them away, he accepted 
the faith, the tongue, and, to a great extent, the law, of the 
empire." 2 

Of all the Teutonic nations, the Goths were the first to embrace 
Christianity, and their history is the most closely interwoven with 
that of declining Eome. "Driven like a wedge into the eastern 
side of Europe by the superincumbent weight of the Huns, they 
pass along the whole length of it, to be similarly thrust out at the 
west by the Franks. During this whole course they hold a place 
intermediate between barbarism and civilisation. . . . They are 
not heathens, yet they are not acknowledged as Christians. Planted 

he might adore the manger and cradle of his Saviour, reminds his readers that 
"Britain is as near heaven as Jerusalem (Et de Ierosolymis et de Britania 
sequaliter patet aula ccelestis), and that what is worthy of praise is not to have 
been at Jerusalem, but to have led a godly life there." It is curious to see 
Britain instanced as a very Ultima Thule. 

1 Chronologically, this chapter should have preceded the last ; but the his- 
torical order seems to be better consulted by following out the course of Arianism 
within the Empire, before referring to its fortunes beyond it. 

2 " This was of a truth the greatest conquest that Eome ever made ; if 
Greece once led captive her Roman conqueror, far more thoroughly did Borne 
lead captive her Teutonic conqueror." Freeman. 


in an indefensible position by their Arian creed, they are crushed 
between the opposing masses of heathenism and Catholicism." 1 

The way in which Christianity was first made known to this 
people is related by Sozomen. " From the time of the wars under 
Gallus and his successors, between the Romans and the Goths, 
many priests were taken captive, and dwelt among those tribes. 
They healed the sick, purged those who were possessed, and led a 
holy and blameless life ; and the barbarians, marvelling at their life 
and miracles, sought to imitate their example." So also Philo- 
storgius : " During the reigns of Valerian and Gallienus (253-268), 
a great body of Goths laid waste Eastern Europe, and crossing 
into Asia, invaded Cappadocia and Galatia, whence they returned 
laden with spoil, and bringing with them many captives, amongst 
whom were not a few ecclesiastics. These pious men induced many 
of their conquerors to embrace Christianity." 

These vague generalities are all that we know of the conversion 
of the Gothic tribes until we come to Ulfilas. With the name of 
this illustrious man the Gothic Church is identified ; he may almost 
be regarded as its founder, leader, and bishop ; from his hands it 
received not the Scriptures only, but the very alphabet by which to 
read them. " He is," said Constantine the Great, " the Moses of 
the Goths." The sources of information regarding him, though 
still very scanty, were augmented in 1840 by the discovery, in the 
library of the Louvre, of a manuscript containing a notice of him, 
and especially of his creed, by his friend and pupil Auxentius, Arian 
bishop of Dorostorus (now Silistria). 

Ulfilas was born about the year 311, and appears to have been 
a descendant of the Cappadocian captives mentioned above. When 
still a youth he was sent with others of his countrymen by the 
ruler of the Gothic nation on an embassy to the court of Con- 
stantine, a.d. 332. From this time it is probable he resided (per- 
haps as a hostage) in the city of Constantinople. Here he acquired 
or perfected his knowledge of Greek and Latin, became a reader in 
the church (lector), commenced his translation of the Bible, and 
formed an acquaintance with Eusebius, the Arian or Homoi-ousion 

1 The campaign which Clovis undertook against the Visigoths, a.d. 507, was 
in fact a war of the Catholic priesthood against the Arians. Rich presents 
were sent to the shrine of St. Martin at Tours to purchase the saint's favour ; 
and as the messengers crossed the threshold of the church, the precentor, as if 
by accident, chanted forth the verse : " Thou hast girded me with strength unto 
the battle; Thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me" 
(Ps. xviii. 39). Assured by this token, Clovis pressed forward in full reliance on 
the protection of the saint. 


bishop of Nicomedia. 1 Sozomen says that before he went to Con- 
stantinople he held the orthodox faith, but that the theological 
arguments of the Arian bishops, or their promise to forward his 
suit with the Emperor if he would conform to their opinions, 
caused him to join their party. This statement is contradicted by 
Ulfilas himself; his Arian creed, as preserved in the manuscript 
of Auxentius, commencing with the words, " I, Ulfilas, bishop and 
confessor, have always thus believed." 

At the age of thirty, a.d. 341, Ulfilas was consecrated bishop of 
the Goths by Eusebius, and sent beyond the Danube to preach the 
Gospel to his countrymen. Here he laboured until the success of 
his efforts alarmed the Gothic sovereign, and gave rise to a perse- 
cution in which "many servants and handmaids of Christ yielded 
up their lives." At the end of seven years Ulfilas himself, with a 
great body of his converts, was expelled, and crossing the Danube 
took refuge within the empire, where he was honourably received 
by the Emperor Constantius. They settled in Moesia, at the foot 
of the Balkan Mountains, " possessors," says Jordanes, 2 " of cattle, 
pastures, forest, and a modicum of wheat, but otherwise poor and 
unwarlike." Here Ulfilas continued to govern and instruct them, 
and they in return yielded to him the most confiding obedience, 
being firmly convinced that he could neither utter nor do anything 

From this time we hear no more of Ulfilas for twenty years, 
except that in 360 he attended a synod of Arian bishops at Con- 
stantinople, at which the creed of Ariminum was adopted, and was 
subscribed by Ulfilas. 

In 370 the Gothic ruler Athanaric renewed the persecution in 
Dacia, and many Christians were put to death or driven to take 
refuge on Eoman soil. In this instance it was not only Arians who 
were thus harassed, but also Catholics and Audians. These last 
were the followers of Audius, a zealous man of pure life, who in 
Syria made himself obnoxious by censuring the vices of the clergy. 
Being banished to Scythia, 8 he made his way into the interior of 
Gothia, and himself and his successors gathered congregations and 
founded convents for men and women. The names of some of the 
martyrs in this persecution have been preserved. One was Saba, 
respecting whom the afflicted Church, after the manner of the 

1 Auxentius speaks of him as preaching constantly in Greek, Latin, and 

2 Sometimes written Jornandes. 

8 Scythia parva, now the Dobrudscha. 


Church at Smyrna, 1 when it testified to the victorious faith of 
Poly carp, issued an encyclical letter : " The Church of God which 
is in Grothia to the Church of God which is in Cappadocia, and 
to all Christians of the Catholic Church." From this letter it 
appears that the Gothic magistrates insisted on the Christians 
mating meat which had been sacrificed to idols. Some of the 
heathens, touched with compassion, secretly substituted instead of 
the offerings meat which had not thus been polluted ; but Saba, 
who had known the faith from a child, scorned the subterfuge, 
declaring that no true Christian could accept escape on such terms. 
The persecution cooled for a season, but broke out again in a 
general inquisition, from which Saba's would-be friends again 
sought to shield him by swearing that there were no Christians in 
the village. But Saba burst into the assembly, exclaiming, "Let 
no one swear for me, for I am a Christian." Summoned before the 
chief persecutor, he was, on the discovery of his poverty, con- 
temptuously dismissed, as one who could do neither good nor harm. 
Some time afterwards it became known that Saba was keeping 
Easter with a presbyter. The king's son came into the village by 
night with a band of armed men, and carried off both Saba and the 
presbyter naked and bound. Neither torture nor promises could 
induce Saba to touch the polluted meat. Left for the night made 
fast to a log, he was released by a compassionate woman, but 
nevertheless refused to escape. A beam being fastened to his neck, 
he was thrown into the river Musaeus and drowned, confessing with 
his last breath his faith in God, and glorifying the Saviour's name. 
His body was recovered and taken away by Julius Soranus, the dux, 
or Roman governor, of Scythia, himself a Christian, who, to use the 
words of the Church Letter, " has by permission of the presbytery 
sent the same to Cappadocia to your Church, a precious gift, and 
glorious fruit of the faith." 

The bulk of the Gothic nation still remained pagan. In 375 the 
shock of the Huns, that " terrible ' riding folk,' who had just passed 
the Gate of Nations and entered Europe," shattered the empire of 
the Ostrogoths on the Volga. Pursuing their wild victorious march, 
they came upon the Visigoths in Dacia, and drove them forward as 
far as the waters of the Danube. The Romans from the southern 
shore of the great river beheld the opposite bank crowded with a 
countless multitude men, women, and children, " looking behind 
them with terror for the approach of the dreaded foe, and stretching 
out their hands to the land of plenty and of safety which lay before 

1 See Early Church History, p. 47. 


them. Their chief, Frithigern, sent envoys to the Emperor Valens r 
begging him to receive his flying people, and give them leave to 
settle on Roman soil. Valens, after long debate with his advisers, 
consented, and almost before the negotiations were complete, the 
impatient people, 200,000 armed men with their families, began to 
cross. Some attempting to swim over were drowned, others crossed 
on rafts and canoes ; while the main body were transported in boats. 
The passage lasted through several days and nights." 

With their change of country the Visigoths exchanged also their 
national religion. The Catholic historian Jordanes relates that 
when the envoys besought the Emperor to grant them shelter, they 
promised, if he would give them teachers in their own tongue, to 
become Christians ; and that the Emperor, who was infected with 
the heresy of the Arians, and had suppressed all the orthodox 
Churches, sent them for preachers supporters of his own creed. 
" The Goths," continues Jordanes, "having come thither ignorant 
and unlearned, were thus imbued with the poison of this perverted 
faith ; and afterwards, in their turn, sending forth preachers to 
carry the Gospel in the same guise to the Ostrogoths and Gepid, 
all the nations of this speech were drawn into the same sect." 

Through the greed and folly of the imperial officers, the conditions 
of the treaty were, in .the absence of the Emperor, shamefully 
violated, and the Goths were turned from subjects into enemies. 
They flew to arms and invaded Thrace, and in 378 a great battle 
was fought between them and the imperial forces near Adrian ople, 
which was so disastrous to the Roman arms as to be called a second 
Cannas. Valens himself was slain. He was carried wounded to a 
cottage, to which the barbarians, ignorant of the prize it contained,, 
set fire, and thus destroyed at once the enemy of their nation and 
the champion of their faith. 

On the form of Christianity which the Goths received, Mr. Scott 
observes : "In this dim twilight of Arianism the figure of the Christ 
appeared familiar to them, and comprehensible by its resemblance 
to their own old deities who stood between man and the absolute 
divine the All-Father. It did not cost them much to exchange 
these demi-gods, who were only just one step removed from heroes, 
for one heroic figure, in whom all the powers and qualities of the 
rest should combine. But the All-Father remained as far removed 
as ever from reach and contact of human needs. Christ was not 
God come down from Heaven to reveal the God-head in the flesh, 
to deliver man from sin; He was a creature like man, exalted above 
man by the design and will of the Father, not by virtue of his own 
divine essence. ... It was thus that the Arian Christ found 


responsive acceptance in the Teutonic mind. They pictured Him 
as a king upon earth, moving about the highways of Palestine, 
attended by troops of loyal followers, from among whom He had 
chosen the Twelve as captains. When He 'went up into a moun- 
tain,' and took his seat, his captains stood in obedient readiness 
before Him, and all below and around, the faithful host was waiting 
to hear his commands. Or if at any time the Teutonic mind took 
a deeper and more spiritual view of the Saviour's work, it was as 
the Healer that they loved to behold Him, moving about amongst 
suffering humanity, touching for the evil, restoring sight and 
power and hearing. Nevertheless," he continues, "Teutonic 
Arianism is to be carefully distinguished from Hellenic Arianism. 
Even if the two could be shown to occupy the same platform of 
belief, the moral value of the same faith was very different in and 
for the two parties who had approached it from different directions. 
For the Goth it was an upward step in faith when he confessed a 
belief in an historic revelation, and submitted himself to the 
teaching of the Gospel through which Jesus was manifested as 
the Son of God. For the Hellenic Christian the acceptance of an 
Arian creed, or of any of the Post-Nicene compromises, was a step 
backwards and downwards. He left the high-level of conception of 
the nature of God, to which, after a great struggle and, as it were, 
by a supreme effort, the Nicene Council had sprung ; and he fell 
back upon a philosophical heathenism, which began by denying 
the God-head of Christ, and afterwards sought to bring about a 
compromise of faith with reason at the cost of logic, by proclaiming 
Christ to be God, but God in the 'second degree.' " 

Ulfilas' own creed has been preserved and expanded by Auxentius. 
The diversity between its language and that of Nicsea is of the 
most subtle kind, but amounts, when pursued to its logical issue, to 
this. Whilst the Son is held to be the Creator and Maker of all 
things, King, Eedeemer, Saviour, and Judge, he is yet only a 
" Second God," subject and obedient in all things to the Father; 
and the Holy Spirit is neither God nor Lord, but the minister of 
Christ, subject and in all things obedient to the Son. 

Ulfilas' translation of the Bible marks an era in the history of the 
Church. It was the earliest version of the Scriptures into an 
unlettered tongue ; it was, moreover, the first translation into one 
of the dialects of that great family of nations " in whose hands was 
the future of the world." Philostorgius tells us that Ulfilas trans- 
lated all the books of both the Old and New Testaments, with the 
exception of Samuel and the Kings, which he omitted because of the 
wars that are related in them, judging that his people, who were 


passionately fond of war, were more in need of a bit than of a spur. 1 
The translation was lost to sight for many centuries ; but about the 
year 1500 the four Gospels 2 were discovered in the monastery of 
Werden in Westphalia, near Diisseldorf, arranged in the order of 
Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark. This is the famous Codex Argen- 
teus (or Silver Book), now in the library of Upsala University. At 
the end of the sixteenth century it found its way to Prague, whence 
it was carried off by the Swedes after the siege in 1648, and pre- 
sented by the victorious Konigsmark to Queen Christina. 

The manuscript is referred to the close of the fifth century, a 
hundred years after the death of Ulfilas, and is believed to have 
been written in Italy, probably at Ravenna. It is on purple vellum, 
in letters of silver, " a few words at the beginning of each section 
being blazoned in gold. At the bottom of each page a sort of 
gallery of four arches resting on Corinthian columns, suggests the 
influence of the architecture of Ravenna on the mind of the 
amanuensis, and serves the useful purpose of enclosing the numbers 
which under the well-known name of the Eusebian Canons enabled 
the student, before the introduction of chapters and verses, readily 
to compare the text of one gospel with the parallel passages in the 
other three." 8 

We naturally ask whether any trace of Arian doctrine is to be 
discovered in Ulfilas' translation. Little evidence of this kind has 
been detected ; but in Philippians ii. 6, " Who being in the form of 
God thought it not robbery to be equal with God," the Greek isa 
(equal) is rendered by the Gothic galeiko (German gleich, English 
like), a word everywhere else used for the Greek homoios (like). " The 
substitution of likeness for equality in the relation of the Son to the 
Father is the point most characteristic of the party to which Ulfilas 

Another inquiry, interesting equally to the missionary and the 
scholar, is, how did Ulfilas, in this first essay to clothe the Gospel 

1 Socrates and Sozomen say that Ulfilas invented the Gothic letters. He 
formed them chiefly from the Greek. 

2 Or rather portions of them, for nearly half the leaves were missing. 

8 In 1736 a Gothic manuscript came to light at Wolfenbiittel, which was 
found to contain large portions of the Epistle to the Romans ; and in 1817 Car- 
dinal Mai deciphered several other manuscripts, apparently of the sixth century, 
from the monastic library at Bobbio in Lombardy. By means of these a con- 
siderable part of Paul's Epistles and of the missing portions of the Gospels has 
been supplied, together with some verses from Nehemiah and Esdras, a quo- 
tation from the Psalms, and allusions to passages in Genesis and Numbers. 
With these exceptions, the whole of the Old Testament, together with the Acts 
of the Apostles, the Catholic Epistles and the Apocalypse, are still wanting. 


in the language of an uncivilized tribe, render the Greek terms 
relating to Sin and Eedemption ? Mr. Scott thus answers the 
question : " The word for law is not command, but Vitoth, from 
vitan, to know, and thus signifies self-knowledge, conscience, corre- 
ponding exactly with the Apostle's description, ' a law unto them- 
selves.' Sin is Fra-waurhts (compare our froward). As to condem- 
nation : Amongst tribes where every stranger was a foe, the simplest 
and worst punishment an injured community could inflict was to 
drive the offender from their midst. He became a wanderer on the 
face of the earth, or in Teutonic phrase, a marges, or wolf ; and 
Ulfilas making use of gavarjan and its derivatives, pictured the 
sinner after judgment as the outcast and the wanderer." In his 
treatment of the words hades and ge-enna, Ulfilas manifested a 
more critical mind than the translators of our Authorised Version, 
who rendered both alike by the word Hell. In the Gothic it is the 
former only which is thus represented, namely, by " Halja (the 
hollow place), in accordance with the old Teutonic mythology in 
which Hel was known as the goddess of the place of darkness and 
of the newly-departed." The word ge-enna, the valley of Hinnom, he 
left untranslated, writing it gaiainna. "Parallel with the notion of 
sin as a crime, and redemption as the payment of the penalty it had 
entailed, was the conviction, deep-rooted in Teutonic thought and 
language, that Sin is a disease, and the Redeemer a healer. The 
Greek sozein (to save) is represented by the Gothic nasjan. Salvation 
was regarded as ' healing ' ; the Saviour was the Nasjands, the 
Healer.' " 

But the importance and interest which the Gothic translation 
possesses for the Christian and the scholar is doubled in the case of 
those nations which, like ourselves, belong to the Teutonic stock. 
The language of Ulfilas is the eldest branch of the Teutonic tree, 
and in its grammar and vocabulary it is easy to trace a close affinity 
with the English of the present day. More than this, to the 
student of comparative philology these fragments of the Gothic 
Scriptures are invaluable, as supplying a link in the chain between 
the various forms of the Teutonic tongue and the ancient Sanskrit 
with which they are radically connected. 

The translation thus made was a priceless treasure to the northern 
tribes for many ages. " Goths and Vandals alike carried it with 
them on their wanderings through Europe. Whether as a religious 
observance, or in the superstitious hope of reading the future on 
the chance-appointed page, it was consulted on the battle-fields of 
Gaul before the fight began. The Vandals took it into Spain and 
Africa, and with their leader Genseric it came round to Rome." 


Besides the Bible, Ulfilas made other translations, and composed 
treatises in Gothic for the use of his people. In 381, the year of 
the great Orthodox Council, Theodosius summoned Ulfilas to Con- 
stantinople. Although the Emperor was bent on crushing the 
Arians, it was yet his policy to flatter the Goths, whose stalwart 
warriors were the support of his throne. A schism had taken 
place in the Arian ranks, and it is no slight tribute to Ulfilas that 
he appears to have been chosen as the only man who could reconcile 
the disputants. He was aged and infirm ; and he had no sooner 
reached the city than he was seized with a mortal sickness. The 
matter on which he had been called had weighed much on his 
mind, but before he had begun to put his hand to it, he was, in the 
words of his admiring biographer, " taken up to heaven after the 
manner of Elijah the prophet." 

Great as was the work of Ulfilas, and mighty as was his influence 
in his own age, that influence had little of lasting effect. The 
changes of events in the West were rapid, and they destroyed any 
abiding traces of his labours. Moreover, " the professor of an 
Arian or Semi- Arian creed could not become the apostle of Teutonic 
Christendom, and the Goth, foremost and noblest branch of the 
great family, was too soon cut off by the sword of the East-Koman 
or trampled under the horsehoofs of the Saracen." 


Martin of Tours. 

The reputation of Martin of Tours for holiness and miraculous 
power has perhaps been greater and more universal than that of 
any other saint in the calendar. He is best known as having, 
when a soldier, divided his martial cloak with a beggar. He de- 
serves also to be known for refusing after his conversion to serve 
any longer in the army. "Hitherto," he said to his general, "I 
have been thy soldier ; let me now be God's. I am the soldier of 
Christ ; it is not lawful for me to fight." 

Martin was born about a.d. 316. In 860 he planted, near 
Poictiers, what is believed to have been the earliest monastery in 
Gaul, and in 371 he became bishop of Tours. Here the discharge 
of his episcopal duties did not satisfy him ; he pined for his 
monkish way of life. Leaving the city therefore, he founded a 
monastery two miles eastward, at the foot of a precipitous rock on 


the north bank of the Loire. Some of the cells were built of logs 
rudely joined together, but most of the eighty brethren, whom he 
gathered round him, dwelt in grottoes, or cavities of the rock. 
The author visited the spot in the spring of 1888. The following, 
is an extract from his diary: " The cliff, which is of sandstone,, 
is one-third of a mile from the river. It is about eighty feet high, 
and is pierced with natural grottoes, some at its base, others at 
some distance up the face of the rock. Devotion and art have 
changed the original character of these caves, and adorned the face 
of the cliff with chapels, steps, and oratories. In front of one of 
these is the burial-place of Martin's disciples and successors, whose 
bones, it is said, were cast out at the Eevolution. The grotto 
shown as that in which Martin himself lived is probably authentic ; 
it was for many centuries one of the most popular places of pil- 
grimage in Europe. When the age grew more luxurious a vast 
monastery was erected on the gently sloping ground between the 
grottoes and the highway which skirts the river. It was called 
Marmoutiers (Ma jus Monasterium), and with its garden covered 
many acres. All that remains of the edifice is the picturesque 
gateway, on the roadside, erected in the 13th century. A girls' 
boarding-school now occupies the place, the large garden being 
probably the same as in the days of the monks. It is laid out with 
a fine avenue of trees, and with vines, fruit, vegetables, and 
flowers. Some of the girls were walking up and down the avenue, 
others were at play in the quadrangle." 

The miracles with which Martin is credited were wonderful even, 
for that age ; some of them are of the magical type familiar to us 
in the Arabian Nights. 

His biography, by his friend Sulpicius Severus, was the most 
popular work of the day. As soon as it appeared in Eome there 
was an eager scramble for it, to the great profit of the booksellers ; 
and at Alexandria nearly all the people had it by heart. 

Martin is associated with the name of the Priscillianists, Spanish, 
dissenters from the Orthodox Church, who seem to have partaken 
of both Gnostic and Manichean errors. Although not more 
inclined than Ambrose of Milan, or Damasus and Siricius, who 
successively filled the see of Eome at that time, to grant actual 
toleration to the followers of Priscillian, Martin's kindlier nature 
led him to interpose on their behalf when extreme measures were 
determined against them. In his ardour to spare their lives, he 
even did violence to his own conscience by partaking of the com- 
munion with the bishops whose hands, in his view, were stained 
with the blood of the heretics. Priscillian was beheaded, with six- 


of his adherents, amongst whom was Euchrotia, the widow of a 
distinguished poet and orator ; Instantius, a hishop, was banished 
to the Scilly Islands ; others of the party were variously punished. 

Although blindly devoted to the Church, Martin was a man of 
truly Christian life and blameless character. " He was," says 
Farrar, "full of pity and gentleness, wearing always on his 
countenance a sort of celestial joy; never was anything on his 
lips but Christ, never anything in his heart but piety, peace, and 
pity." He died about a.d. 397, on November 11th, named from him 
Martinmas Day. 

Martin is credited with having had frequent interviews with 
Satan. One of these is thus related by Cardinal Newman : u One 
day, while Martin was praying in his cell, the Evil Spirit stood 
before him, environed in a glittering radiance, by such pretence 
more easily to deceive him ; clad also in royal robes, crowned with 
a golden and jewelled diadem, with shoes covered with gold, with 
serene face and bright looks, so as to seem nothing so little as he 
was. Martin at first was dazzled at the sight ; and for a long 
while both parties kept silence. At length the Evil One began: 
'Acknowledge, Martin, whom thou seest. I am Christ, I am 
now descendiug upon earth, and I wished first to manifest myself 
to thee.' Martin still kept silent, and returned no answer. The 
devil ventured to repeat his bold pretence : ' Martin, why hesitate 
believing, when thou seest I am Christ ? ' Then he, understanding 
by revelation of the Spirit, that it was the Evil One, and not God, 
answered: 'Jesus, the Lord, announced not that He should come 
in glittering clothing, and radiant with a diadem. I will not 
believe that Christ is come, save in that state and form in which 
He suffered, save with the show of the wounds of the Cross.' At these 
words the other vanished forthwith as smoke, and filled the cell 
with so horrible an odour as to leave indubitable proof who he was. 
The application of this vision," observes the cardinal, " to Martin's 
age, is obvious. I suppose it means in this day, that Christ comes 
not in pride of intellect, or reputation for ability. These are the 
glittering robes in which Satan is now arrayed. Many spirits are 
abroad ; more are issuing from the pit : the credentials which they 
-display are the precious gifts of mind, beauty, riches, depth, 
originality. Christian, look hard at them with Martin in silence, 
^ind then ask for the print of the nails." 

( 61 ) 



The other Catholic Witnesses whom we have selected, all of whom 
were bishops except Jerome, rose to ecclesiastical rank through the 
regular gradations of the priesthood, and most of them also by the 

Episcopal Chair of Ambrose, of white marble, in the church of St. Ambrose, 
Milan. (From a photograph). 

way of the monastic cell. It was quite otherwise with Ambrose.. 
From the ivory chair of the Eoman magistrate (sella curulis) he 
stepped at once to the marble chair (cathedra) of the bishop, which 
he filled to so much purpose as to leave it at his death superior in 
authority to the imperial throne. The scene of his sovereignty 
was Milan, the usual residence of the Western Emperors from the 
reign of Diocletian till the invasion of the Goths under Alaric. 

The father of Ambrose was a Eoman of rank, and prefect of that 
division of the empire to which Gaul, Spain, and Britain belonged^ 


His son was born about a.d. 340. After receiving a liberal education, 
the young man devoted himself to the profession of the law, which 
was the customary road to promotion in the State. He made rapid 
advances, and was appointed to the high dignity of "Consular" 
magistrate at Milan, in which post he gained the good opinion of 
all parties. Whilst he held this office, the Arian bishop of the city 
died, and the Catholics determined to elect one of their own party 
in his place. The Arians resisted, and a vehement strife arose ; 
the public peace was in danger. The Consular hastened down to 
the church and made a speech to the people, exhorting them to 
peace and mutual concord. Whilst he was speaking, a cry was 
heard, " Ambrose for bishop." The voice was said afterwards to 
have been that of a child. However this may have been, the name 
met with an instant and enthusiastic response, the whole multi- 
tude, with one voice, shouting out, " We will have Ambrose for 
our bishop." Ambrose, who had not even been baptized, made all 
the resistance he could to this popular nomination, even resorting 
to very doubtful means to divert the people from their object. All 
was of no avail, and when he tried to escape the citizens took him 
into friendly custody, and sent a letter to the Emperor Valen- 
tinian I., praying for his approval of their election. As soon as 
the imperial confirmation was received, the bishop-elect was bap- 
tized, passed summarily through the intermediate ecclesiastical 
stages, and on the eighth day received episcopal consecration. This 
was in 374, a year after the death of Athanasius, and two years 
after Basil had compelled the two Gregorys to accept the same 
honour. Ambrose was thirty-four years of age. 

On his ordination he at once divested himself of his private 
property, bestowing part on the poor and the Church, reserving a 
portion for his sister's maintenance, and placing the rest under the 
management of his brother Satyrus. To this voluntary poverty 
he joined the rigid asceticism of the times. He attended no 
banquets, dined only on Sundays, Saturdays, and festivals, and 
devoted the greater part of the night to prayer. It was one of his 
first cares to make up by study for his want of education in 
Christian doctrine. " Hurried as I was from the judicial bench to 
the priesthood, I began to teach what I had not myself learned, so 
that I had to learn and teach at the same time, because I had not 
had time to learn before." 

In Ambrose the stern rule of the Eoman magistrate 1 was united 

1 He was several times employed in political negotiations ; his statesmanship 
was second only to his churchmanship. 


to the zeal of the ambitious churchman ; he was, as Milman 
expresses it, " the spiritual ancestor of the Hildebrands and the 
Innocents." Of such a man it "was not to be expected that he 
would oppose the growing superstitions of the age. On the con- 
trary, he promoted some of them to the utmost of his influence. 
He was never weary of extolling the merits of virginity, on which 
he discoursed with such eloquence that the mothers of Milan locked 
up their daughters lest they should come under his spell. Never- 
theless, troops of virgins flocked to him for consecration, some of 
them even so far as from Mauritania. Still his success fell short 
of his desires, and he even commended those who took the veil in 
spite of their parents. 

No less did he foster the growing veneration for relics. A 
splendid basilica had just been erected. ' As a check to the Arians, 
the orthodox wished it dedicated with the same pomp as had been 
used in the case of another new church near the Eoman Gate. To 
this Ambrose consented, on condition that some new relics should 
be found to consecrate it. These were discovered in the church of 
St. Felix and St. Nabor. Let us hear his own account of the 
matter. " Since," he writes to his sister, " I never conceal from 
thy Sanctity anything which takes place, thou must know that we 
have actually discovered some holy martyrs. I felt an ardent 
presentiment of what was to happen. Notwithstanding the diffi- 
dence of the clergy, I commanded the earth to be removed from 
the space before the rails. I recognised the appropriate tokens ; 
and some persons being presented for the imposition of hands, the 
holy martyrs began so to bestir themselves, that before I had 
spoken, an urn was snatched up, and thrown down on the place of 
the holy sepulture. We found two men of extraordinary size, 2 
such as a former age has produced ; all the bones entire, and plenty 
of blood. There was a great concourse of people during two days. 
We transferred the remains to the church, which they call the 
Ambrosian ; and while we were removing them a blind man was 
cured." " The miracles of old time," he adds in a sermon preached 
on the occasion, " are now revived ; for you see many healed by the 
mere shadows of the saints' bodies. How many kerchiefs are dis- 
played in triumph ! How many coverlets are sought for, as having 
by mere contact with these most holy relics become capable of 
curing disease!" 3 

1 On the site of the present cathedral. 

2 Afterwards identified as Gervasius and Protasius, two brothers supposed to 
have been martyred under Nero at Ravenna, and thence removed to Milan. 

3 The Arians derided the whole affair as a trick. An annual procession used 


Under Ambrose the ceremonial of Divine service was invested 
with increased solemnity and magnificence. During the anxious 
vigils of the congregation, when his basilica was beset by the 
soldiers of Valentinian II., Ambrose introduced from the East the 
practice of antiphonal singing, in which, instead of leaving the 
psalmody to the choristers, the whole congregation, divided into 
two choirs, bore an alternate part. 1 

Profound, however, as was his veneration for the externals of 
religion, Ambrose knew how to disregard them when weighed 
against the lives and liberty of men. The Gothic invasion brought 
with it unutterable calamities. From Thrace and Illyricum, espe- 
cially, an immense number of captives were carried off ; and these 
the Church, as in the days of Cyprian, hastened to redeem. When 
the common chest of the Milanese Church had been emptied, and 
the rich offerings of piety exhausted, Ambrose caused the sacra- 
mental vessels to be melted down and sold, to supply money for 
the ransom. "The Church," he wrote, "possesses gold, not to 
treasure up, but to distribute for the welfare and happiness of men. 
It is not merely the lives of the men and the honour of the women 
which are endangered in captivity, but the faith of their children. 
The blood of redemption which has gleamed in these golden cups 
has sanctified them, not for the service alone, but for the ransom 
of man." 

Ambrose had not long taken possession of his office when he was 
brought into sharp collision with the Imperial authority. The see 
of Sirmium was vacant. Disregarding the limits of his own 
diocese, he went thither to prevent the election of an Arian and to 
secure the appointment of an orthodox bishop. By this act he 
incurred the displeasure of Justina, the mother of the youthful 
emperor, Valentinian II., who was a zealous Arian, and had her 
residence at Sirmium. Some years afterwards she demanded the 
basilica in Porta Eomana at Milan, which was outside the walls of 
the city, for the Arian worship. The answer of Ambrose was : 
"A bishop cannot alienate that which is dedicated to God." A 
second demand for the possession of a new church within the walls 
met with the same repulse. The Imperial officers were ordered to 
take possession of the church ; a tumult arose, and an Arian priest 
was severely handled, and only rescued by the interference of 

to take place at Milan in honour of these saints, but it was forbidden by the 
authorities, because the people of Piacenza threatened, if it occurred again, to 
produce their relic, the third leg of St. Protasius ! 

1 Ambrose's care in this matter has been perpetuated in the name of the 
Ambrosian Chant, but the connection of this latter with Ambrose is uncertain. 


Ambrose. Many wealthy citizens were thrown into prison, and 
heavy fines imposed. But the bishop was inflexible ; and when, 
the Empress commanded him to tranquillize the populace, he 
answered, "It is in my power to refrain from exciting their 
violence, but it is for God to appease it when excited." The 
soldiers surrounded the church. The bishop who was performing 
the religious rites was apprised of their arrival, but went on as if 
nothing was happening. The doors were burst open ; the affrighted 
women began to fly ; but when the soldiers saw the dignified and 
undisturbed countenance of the bishop, as of one whose soul was 
absorbed in his office, they fell on their knees and assured him 
that they came to pray, and not to fight. 

In 386 an edict was passed permitting free worship to the Arians, 
and rendering liable to capital punishment all who should obstruct 
them. Under this edict the basilica of Porta Romana was again 
demanded, but Ambrose again refused : " God forbid that I should 
yield the heritage of Jesus Christ. Naboth would not part with 
the vineyard of his fathers to Ahab, and should I surrender the 
house of God the heritage of all the faithful bishops who have 
been before me ?" An order of banisbment was served upon him, 
but in terms very unusual in the imperial chancery : " Depart from 
the city, and go whither thou pleasest." Ambrose, however, did 
not please to depart, but remained in the city preaching with the 
utmost fearlessness, and even attacking the Empress-mother in a 
style which cannot be defended. He took his text from the book 
of Job, and compared the Empress to the patriarch's wife, who 
bade her husband blaspheme God. He went on to liken her to 
Eve, to Jezebel, and to Herodias. Upon this the youthful Emperor 
Valentinian II. sent his private secretary, not to expel the refractory 
prelate, but to deprecate his tyranny. " If I am a tyrant," replied 
Ambrose, " why not strike me down ? So far from being a tyrant, 
my only defence is the power to expose my life for the honour of 
God." He added, with sacerdotal pride, " Under the ancient law, 
priests bestowed empire, they did not condescend to assume it; 
kings desired the priesthood, not priests the sovereignty." When 
the Emperor himself was urged to confront Ambrose in the church, 
he replied : " His eloquence would compel you yourselves to lay 
me bound hand and foot before his throne." 

But it was not boys 1 and dowagers only that Ambrose brought 
to his feet. The great Theodosius L, Emperor of the East, was 
in his turn compelled to give way before the commanding genius and 
spiritual assumption of the bishop. A synagogue of the Jews in 

1 Valentinian was not more than fourteen when these events took place. 



Mesopotamia had been burnt by the Christians, at the instigation, 
it was said, of the bishop of the place. At the same time the 
church of the Gnostics had been destroyed and plundered by the 
furious zeal of some monks. Theodosius commanded that the 
local bishop should rebuild the synagogue at his own expense, and 
that the Gnostics should be indemnified and the rioters be punished 
by the governor. The party spirit of the Christian world was 
affronted, and the " pious " indignation of Ambrose aroused, by 
this equitable decree. He stood forward as the champion of the 
faith, and in a letter to the Emperor vindicated the conduct of the 
bishop: " I protest that I would myself have burnt the synagogue, 
certainly that I would have given orders for it, that no place might 
be found where Christ is denied." "If," he continues, "the 
bishop shall comply with the mandate he will be an apostate, and 
the Emperor will be answerable for his apostasy. What has 
been done is but a trifling retaliation for the acts of plunder and 
destruction perpetrated by the Jews and heretics against the 

No answer being returned to this letter, Ambrose had recourse 
to the pulpit. In a sermon delivered in the presence of the 
Emperor, he compared the Christian priest to the prophets of the 
Old Testament whose duty it was to proclaim God's message to the 
king himself; and he admonished Theodosius that he owed every- 
thing to God's mercy, and that therefore it was his duty to wash 
and kiss the feet of the Church, the body of Christ, to honour all 
the disciples, even the least, and to pardon their faults. As he 
was leaving the pulpit the Emperor stopped him, asking, " Is it I 
whom thou hast made the subject of thy discourse?" " I have 
said that which I deemed useful for thee," was the reply. ' I 
own," rejoined Theodosius, " that my commands have been a little 
severe, but I have already relaxed them, and these monks commit 
many crimes." This concession did not satisfy Ambrose. " I am 
going," he said, " to offer for thee the sacrifice ; enable me to do so 
with a clear conscience." The Emperor sat down and nodded 
assent, but the pertinacious prelate remained standing. " Suppress 
the whole matter," he said, " swear it to me, and on thy sworn 
promise I will proceed to offer the sacrifice." The Emperor swore. 
Ambrose celebrated the Eucharist. " But," as he wrote the day 
after to his sister, " I would not have done it unless he had given 
me his solemn promise ; and never did I experience such sensible 
marks of the presence of God in prayer." 

Two years later, a.d. 390, Theodosius was again compelled to 
humble himself before Ambrose, and this time for worthy cause. 


41 With all his wisdom and virtue the Emperor was liable to 
paroxysms of ungovernable fury." A tumult had arisen in Thes- 
salonica about a favourite charioteer of the circus. The riot was 
quelled with difficulty. The imperial officers were treated with the 
utmost indignity, and some of them brutally murdered. When the 
news was brought to the Emperor, who was then at Milan, his rage 
was unbounded. But Ambrose was at his side, and succeeded for 
the time in calming his excitement, and in obtaining from him a 
promise that the affair should be judicially dealt with. Unhappily 
the bishop was called away to preside at a synod, and during his 
absence other counsellors, particularly Rufinus, the master of the 
household, obtained the Emperor's ear, and in an evil moment he 
sent secret orders to Thessalonica for a general massacre. A fresh 
exhibition of games was announced, and, in order to make the 
number of victims as large as possible, the whole population were 
invited to them in the Emperor's name. Eager to propitiate their 
offended sovereign, the citizens crowded into the circus. The 
troops were ready ; instead of the games the signal for the massacre 
was given, and before sunset seven thousand, at the lowest com- 
putation, men, women, and children, had been " mown down like 
ears of corn at harvest time." 

On hearing of this atrocity, Ambrose withdrew into the country 
and wrote to the Emperor. The letter set forth the horror which 
he and his brother bishops felt at this inhuman deed, in which he 
should consider himself an accomplice if he did not avow his 
detestation of its guilt, and refuse to celebrate the Eucharist in the 
presence of one so stained with blood. He exhorted Theodosius to 
penitence, and promised to offer up prayers on his behalf. When 
the Emperor presented himself with his royal retinue at the door of 
the church, to join as usual in the public worship, he was confronted 
by the indignant prelate in his episcopal robes : " How wilt thou 
dare, Emperor, to set foot in the sanctuary, and with hands 
dripping with the blood of men unjustly slain, to receive the body 
of the all-holy Lord, or dare to raise his precious blood to lips from 
which words of so great wrath and destruction have proceeded. 
Retire, and add not a fresh crime to those with which thou art 
already burdened." 

The Emperor returned to his palace conscience- stricken and 
weeping. For eight months he endured his ignominious exclusion. 
The festival of Christmas came, and found him utterly disconsolate. 
Rufinus inquired the cause of his grief. He replied, "I am 
lamenting my unhappy lot ; the church of God is open to slaves 
and beggars, but is closed to me. Heaven, too, is closed ; for our 



Lord said, ' Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in 
heaven.'" "I will go to Ambrose," answered Rufinus, "and 
compel him to release thee from this bond." "It is in vain," 

Doors of the basilica of St. Ambrose, Milan, containing (at the top of each) a 
small panel of cypress wood, believed to be part of the gates which Ambrose 
closed against the Emperor Theodosius. From a photograph. 

replied the Emperor, " thou wi^not persuade Ambrose to violate 
the Divine law from any fear of Imperial power." Rufinus, how- 
ever, sought an interview with the bishop, who spurned him as the 
chief counseller of the massacre. And when Rufinus said the 
Emperor was approaching: " If he comes," replied Ambrose, "I 
will repel him from the vestibule of the church." 


The minister returned to the Emperor, and advised him to 
remain in his palace. But the Imperial will was now thoroughly 
subdued. " I will go," he answered, " and receive the chastisement 
I deserve." Proceeding to the consecrated precincts, he found the 
bishop sitting in his parlour, and humbly begged for absolution. 
The bishop sternly asked, " What penitence hast thou shown for 
thy great fault ? What remedy hast thou applied to the incurable 
wound thou hast inflicted? " " It is thy duty," answered the peni- 
tent, " to prescribe the remedies ; mine to obey." Ambrose imposed 
two conditions, that the law of the Emperor Gratian should be re- 
enacted, which required on every sentence of death or confiscation 
the lapse of thirty days before execution, and that Theodosius 
should perform public penance in the church. The conditions were 
accepted ; the enactment was signed ; and " the sovereign of the 
Boman Empire the victor in so many battles, the legislator of the 
world entered the sacred enclosure as an abject penitent. Laying 
aside every ornament that marked his rank, prostrate on the pave- 
ment, smiting his breast, tearing his hair, watering the stones with 
his tears, he cried aloud, ' My soul cleaveth to the dust, quicken 
Thou me, according to thy word.'" In this position he remained 
during the first portion of the Liturgy. When the offertory began, 
he rose, advanced within the choir to present his offering, and was 
about to take the seat usually accorded to the Emperor in the 
midst of the clergy. But Ambrose took advantage of his humilia- 
tion to put an end to this practice. A deacon stepped up to Theo- 
dosius and informed him that no layman might remain in the choir 
during the celebration. The submissive Emperor withdrew outside 
the rails. 1 

In 395 Theodosius died. Calling for Ambrose on his death-bed, 
lie entreated him to be a father to his youthful sons Arcadius and 
Honorius, 2 as he had been twenty years before to Gratian and 
Valentinian. But only two more years were allotted to Ambrose. 
They were years of activity and busy work. Clouds were gathering 
on the northern horizon, but the high-souled churchman did not 
live to share the troubles which beset the sons of Theodosius. He 
passed away whilst Alaric was even now planning the invasion of 
Italy, which ended in the sack of Borne. 

1 When Theodosius returned to Constantinople he was invited by the bishop 
Nectarius to occupy his accustomed chair in the choir. "No," replied Theo- 
dosius with a sigh ; " I have learned at Milan the insignificance of an Emperor 
in the church, and the difference between him and a bishop. But no one 
here tells me the truth. I know not any bishop save Ambrose who deserves 
the name." 

2 Arcadius was twelve, Honorius eleven years old. 


The great Stilicho, who ruled the West in the name of Honorius, 
held Ambrose in the same esteem as Theodosius had done. When 
he heard that the bishop was dying, he summoned the clergy, and, 
with mingled entreaties and commands, persuaded them to go to 
his bedside, and bid him pray to be permitted to live. The dying 
prelate calmly replied, "I have not so lived among you as to be 
ashamed to live on ; but I do not fear to die, for our Lord is good." 
As the end drew near, the question arose who should succeed him. 
Four deacons, standing at the farther end of the gallery in which 
his couch was placed, were conversing in a low tone on this subject. 
The dying man overheard them, and when they mentioned the 
name of Simplician, they were startled to hear him say three times, 
" Old, but good." 1 Ambrose died a.d. 397, in his fifty-eighth year. 
His body was laid in state in the cathedral until Easter Eve, and 
buried in the church which now bears his name, 2 in presence of an 
immense crowd, Jews and pagans joining with his flock to pay him 

Ambrose left a multitude of works, which, " though deficient 
in originality," have acquired for him a distinguished place as a 
teacher in the Western Church. " The West owes a vast debt to 
Ambrose ; he, more than any other Father, checked the waves of 
Arianism, which, but for him, would have rolled over Italy." He 
is esteemed by many Protestant writers, especially by Luther. 
" Amongst the Fathers," says the great Eeformer, " St. Augustine 
holds unquestionably the first place, Ambrose the second, Bernard 
the third. Ambrose is admirable when he treats upon that most 
essential article, the forgiveness of sins." 

Amongst the best known of Ambrose's works are his hymns. 
With one of these Augustine consoled himself the day after his 
mother's death. " I slept," he says in his Confessions, " and awoke 
again, and as I lay alone on my bed and called to mind those verses 
of Thy Ambrose, I found my grief not a little assuaged." 

1 Simplician was elected his successor. 
2 The basilica of St. Ambrose. The present building is of Lombard style, 
and dates from the latter part of the ninth century. Its chief feature is the 
rich facing of the altar in gold and silver work, richly set with precious stones. 
The twelve bas-reliefs on the back represent scenes in the life of Ambrose ; they 
appear to have been executed about 835. 

( 71 ) 



We return now to the East. John, who was surnamed for his 
eloquence Chrysostom, or the golden-mouthed, 1 was a native of 
Antioch and was born a.d. 345 or 347. His father was a military 
officer of rank ; his mother Anthusa, who was left a widow at the 
age of twenty, refused to marry again, that she might devote her- 
self to the education of her infant son and the care of his property. 
When his pagan tutor Libanius, who, we may remember, was also 
Basil's instructor, and who had returned to his native city of 
Antioch, heard that Anthusa remained unmarried, he exclaimed, 
" Good heavens, what women these Christians have ! " And when 
on his death-bed, many years afterwards, Libanius was asked by 
his friends which of his pupils he thought most worthy to succeed 
him in his professorship, he replied, " John, if the Christians had 
not stolen him from us." 

On the completion of his education Chrysostom commenced life 
as an advocate, a calling for which his brilliant powers of oratory 
especially qualified him ; but the pious instructions of his mother 
were beginning to bear fruit, and he recoiled from the practices in 
use in the legal profession. His disinclination to the law and to 
the worldly life by which he was surrounded was strengthened by 
the influence of Basilius, 2 " the companion of his studies and the 
sharer of all his thoughts and plans." Like most of the earnest 
spirits in that age, Basilius had adopted the monastic life, and 
Chrysostom prepared to follow his example. It was, as he after- 
wards said, a sense of the glaring contrast between the Christianity 
of the Gospel and the Christianity of ordinary life which drove him 
to this resolution. The world seemed to him "to wage an im- 
placable warfare against the commands of Christ, and he determined 
therefore to seek in seclusion that kind of life which he saw exhibited 
in the gospels, but nowhere else." He does not seem to have asked 
himself, What is to become of the community of men if the salt is 
taken away ? 

1 This epithet was not in common use until the fifth century ; in his lifetime 
he was always called John. 

* This name and Basil are the same ; the Latin form is here used to dis- 
tinguish Chrysostom's friend from Basil of Cappadocia. 


Up to this time be had not been baptized. Of all the eminent 
men whose lives we are passing under review not one can be shown 
to have received baptism in infancy, and of most it can be said with 
certainty that they were not baptized until they were of full age ; 
yet all, except two, were the sons of Christian parents, and Augus- 
tine's mother was a Christian. Chrysostom was about twenty- 
three years old when he received the rite, and the public profession 
of his faith thus made was very helpful to his character. " From 
the hour of his baptism," says his biographer Palladius, " he 
neither swore, nor defamed any one, nor spoke falsely, nor cursed, 
nor even tolerated facetious jokes." 

"When Chrysostom's mother heard of his intention to become a 
monk her affectionate heart sank within her. Taking him by the 
hand she led him into her chamber, and making him sit beside her 
on the bed, burst into tears, and "with words more moving than 
tears" thus poured out her heart. "Not long, my child, was I 
permitted the enjoyment of thy father's virtues, whose premature 
death brought orphanhood on thee, and on me the miseries of 
untimely widowhood. Words cannot describe the troubled sea into 
which a young woman who has just left her father's roof, and is 
unused to the world, is suddenly plunged by this insufferable 
calamity ; what idleness and misconduct of servants she has to put 
up with, against what cabals of kinsfolk she has to defend herself; 
what insolence of assessors and tax-gatherers she has to submit to. 
By none of these difficulties, however, was I prevailed upon to 
contract a second marriage, but endured the tempest without 
shrinking, being supported in the first place from above, and next 
by thy features, on which I gazed incessantly as on the living image 
of my departed husband. I have not suffered thy patrimony to 
diminish, but, whilst I have denied thee nothing which thy con- 
dition required, the expense has been defrayed from my own purse 
and my father's dowry. Do not think however that I say this to 
reproach thee. In return for all I have but one favour to entreat ; 
make me not a second time a widow, awaken not again my 
slumbering sorrows. Wait for my death, which cannot be very 
long ; and when thou hast laid me in the dust and mingled my 
bones with those of thy father, then travel whither thou wilt, even 
beyond the sea. Only so long as I live be contented to dwell with 
me, and do not rashly provoke God by afflicting thy mother." 

Chrysostom could not withstand so tender an appeal. He did 
not, however, entirely relinquish his purpose. Like Gregory 
Nazianzen, prevented from entering a monastery he made a monas- 
tery of his home, and withdrew from all worldly occupations and 

cheysostom's artifice to elude ordination. 73 

amusements. He ate little and seldom, slept on the bare ground, 
and rose frequently for prayer ; he rarely left the house, and lest 
he should fall back into the habit of evil speaking he maintained 
almost unbroken silence. In this recluse manner of life he was 
joined by several youthful companions. One of these was Theodore, 
afterwards bishop of Mopsuestia, famous for his advocacy of the 
rational as opposed to the allegorical method of scripture inter- 

We have more than once had to deplore the low standard of 
truthfulness which prevailed at this period, even amongst the most 
devoted Christians. Chrysostom shared this failing. Several sees 
became vacant in Syria which it was desirable to fill without delay. 
A body of bishops met at Antioch for this purpose. Amongst 
those deemed eligible Chrysostom and Basilius were named, al- 
though they were not yet even deacons. Basilius proposed that 
they should act in concert, and either both accept or both refuse 
the office, and to this Chrysostom pretended to agree ; but, terrified 
at the bare idea of ordination, he secretly resolved to elude the 
appointment and let his friend be chosen alone. When the time 
arrived, and Basilius was seized and carried before the bishops, 
Chrysostom was not to be found. To his inquiries for him Basilius 
received the evasive answer, " that it would be strange indeed, if, 
when the self-willed Chrysostom was yielding submissively to the 
decision of the fathers, Basilius, his superior in understanding and 
experience, should show any reluctance." On the faith of this, 
Basilius allowed the ordaining hands to be laid upon his own head. 
Discovering too late the trick which had been played upon him, he 
upbraided Chrysostom with his breach of their friendly compact. 
So deeply were his feelings touched that words choked his utterance. 
But Chrysostom, unmoved by his reproaches, answered only with a 
burst of laughter, and forcibly seizing his hand and kissing it, gave 
thanks to God for the success of the plot. He went further and 
defended the fraud, on the oft-asserted but rotten principle that 
deceit is praiseworthy when practised in a good cause. A century 
and a quarter before, Julius Africanus had penned this memorable 
maxim, " May the opinion never prevail in the Church of Christ 
that any false thing can be fabricated for Christ's glory." 1 Un- 
happily the Church has too often lost sight of this golden rule. 2 

1 See Early Church History, p. 171. 

8 "Jerome not unfrequently violated the sanctity of truth. He defends 

himself by the examples of Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, and still more by the 

practice of Christian controversialists, as Origen, Methodius, Eusebius, Apolli- 

naris, who often allowed themselves to advance what they knew to be untrue, 


Just at this period paganism was rigorously proscribed. An 
imperial decree, issued by Valentinian and Valens against such as 
practised magical arts, was being enforced at Eome and Antioch. 
The mere possession of a book of divination might lead to torture, 
banishment, or even death. 1 It happened that Chrysostom, walking 

in order to strengthen their argument. This laxity concerning truth passed 
under the name of oikonomia in Greek, and dispensatio in Latin [both signifying 
management], or sometimes officiosum mendacium [serviceable falsehood]. It 
had footing chiefly in the Greek Church." These loose principles were not 
shared by Augustine, who stands almost alone amongst the Fathers of this ago 
in his steadfast adherence to truth. " Every lie is a sin. Speech was given to 
man, not to deceive another, but to make known his thoughts ; and to use it 
for deception, and not for its appointed end, is a sin. Nor are we to suppose 
that there can be a lie which is not sinful, because it is sometimes possible by 
telling a lie to serve another. It cannot be denied that those have reached a 
high standard of goodness who never lie except to save a man from injury, but 
it is not the deceit, but the good intention that is praiseworthy. It is quite 
enough that the deception should be pardoned without being made the subject 
of laudation, especially among the heirs of the New Covenant, to whom it is 
said, ' Let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay, for whatsoever is 
more than these cometh of evil.'" 

1 Of the dominion which magic exerted over the ancient world we have at 
this day little conception. The stringent and frequent repetition in the Old 
Testament of the law against enchantments, necromancy, familiar spirits, and 
other forms of divination, proves the prevalence of this superstition in the early 
ages of the world ; nor was its hold less powerful on the nations, classic or bar- 
barian, over which the Eoman Empire extended. In the Acts (xix. 19) we read 
of the converts at Ephesus (one of the chief centres of the magical art) 
burning the books they were accustomed to use, to the value of nearly 2000. 

It was a piece of treasonable practice which provoked the inquisition at 
Antioch. Many plots were in agitation against the life of the Emperor Valens, 
and in one of these the conspirators fixed upon Theodorus, an Imperial Secretary, 
to be Emperor in his stead. To confirm this choice, the magical art was 
invoked. According to the evidence of one of the actors given under torture, 
a tripod of laurel twigs was constructed in imitation of that of the famous 
oracle at Delphi, and, after being consecrated with mysterious incantations, 
was placed in the middle of a room which had been purified by Arabian incense* 
On the tripod was set a metal dish with the twenty-four letters of the Greek 
alphabet engraved round the edge. Then a priest, clothed in linen, and holding 
a sprig of vervain, called upon the divinity who presides over foreknowledge, 
and extending his hand above the tripod, let fall a ring suspended by a flaxen 
thread of extreme fineness. As the ring, gently set in motion by his fingers, 
touched and bounded off from the successive letters, the priest following the 
order in which the letters were touched gave forth metrical replies to the 
questions put by the bystanders. And when one of them inquired who should 
succeed the present Emperor? the ring touched successively the four letters 
E O A (TH E D), on which some one exclaimed : " This is the decree of fate ; 
Theodorus is to be our Emperor." On the discovery of the plot Theodorus was 
put to death in a barbarous manner, and with him a multitude of persons of 


with a friend through the public gardens by the banks of the 
Orontes, fished out of the river some leaves of a book. " A playful 
contest for the prize ensued, but was changed into horror on finding 
it to be a book of magic. Their dismay was increased by seeing a 
soldier approach. What was to be done ? To keep the leaves or 
to throw them away seemed equally dangerous. At last they flung 
them back into the water. The soldier's suspicions had not been 
aroused, and the two friends passed on unchallenged." " Chry- 
sostom always gratefully looked back to this escape as a signal 
instance of providential deliverance." 

Shortly after this occurrence (his mother probably being then 
deceased), Chrysostom left his home to join a monastic community 
on the mountains to the south of Antioch. Here he spent four 
years, " a hallowed and peaceful time," to which he loved to recur 
in after-life. He paints the daily round of the cloister in warm 
colours. " Before the first rays of sunlight the abbot went round, 
and with his foot woke up those who were still sleeping. "When all 
had risen, and before they broke their fast, they united in a hymn 
of praise and in prayer. At sunrise each went to his allotted task 
some to read or write, others to manual labour. Four hours 
during the day the third, sixth, ninth, and at even were ap- 
pointed for prayer and psalmody. When the day's work was over, 
reclining on strewn grass, they partook of a common meal of bread 
and water, with occasionally vegetables and oil for the sick. After 
this they again sang a hymn, and then betook themselves to their 
straw couches, and slept, Chrysostom says, free from those anxieties 
which beset men in the world. No need was there of bolts and 
bars, for the monk had notbing to lose except his life, the loss of 
which he counted an advantage, since he could say, ' to me to live 
is Christ, and to die is gain.' When death entered the monastery 
no sound of lamentation was heard. It was not said such a one 
is dead, but, ' he has been perfected ; ' and his body was carried 
forth to burial with hymns of thanksgiving, and the prayers of his 
companions, that they, too, might soon see the end of their labours, 
and be permitted to behold Jesus Christ." 

But being still unable to attain the object he had in view, 
namely, " the utter extirpation of his human instincts, he pro- 
ceeded to abandon altogether the society of man, and taking up his 
abode in one of those solitary caves with which the mountains 

various ranks, some of whom, it would seem, were guilty of no other crime 
than owning in their names the fatal syllables. The actual successor of Valens- 
was Theodosius. 


abound, he braved the intense cold of that elevated region, and 
limited himself to the smallest portion of food and sleep on -which 
life could be sustained. At the end of two years his health so com- 
pletely broke down that he was forced to quit his cave, and forsaking 
1 the life of angels ' for that of men, he returned with a shattered 
constitution to his home in Antioch." 

After teaching as a deacon for five years, Chrysostom was 
ordained presbyter in 386, and for ten years diligently occupied 
himself with the duties of his office, sometimes preaching five days 
in the week. Bishop Flavian opened the pulpit of the cathedral to 
him, and whenever it was his turn to preach, the building was sure 
to be thronged. In the great cities the congregations were of a 
very motley character ; and there also the most popular preachers 
were to be found. An unseemly and reprehensible practice had 
crept in of signifying approbation by applause. It is a notable 
evidence of the decay of the Church that the manners of the theatre 
should thus have been imported into divine service. So inveterate 
had this habit become, that when Chrysostom rebuked his auditory 
for their irreverent behaviour, they applauded the very rebuke. 
Such, too, was the charm of his eloquence that, in these crowded 
audiences hanging in rapt admiration on the preacher's lips, pick- 
pockets found a profitable occasion for plying their trade, and 
Chrysostom had to warn his hearers to leave their purses at home. 

Here it may be well to pause a moment and inquire whether the 
Church has not been mistaken in offering so high a premium for 
pulpit oratory. The popular admiration of this gift and the prizes 
offered to those who excel, lead to a contempt of simple Gospel 
ministry when unaccompanied by learning and eloquence. When, 
in the still earlier period of the Church, the free exercise of prophecy 
and teaching in the congregation was exchanged for the ministry 
of one man only, grievous loss was incurred ; and this loss was yet 
more enhanced when it came to be held of first importance that the 
minister should be both scholar and orator. No warranty for such 
a change is to be found in the New Testament, where a sound 
knowledge of scriptural truth, with faith and love, and the anointing 
of the Holy Spirit, are set forth as the only and sufficient qualifica- 
tions of the Gospel herald. This departure from the original 
Christian institutes brought with it a train of evil consequences. 
.Not only were those gifts stifled which the Apostle so fully recog- 
nizes as the spiritual possession of the many, but the congregation 
no longer came together to realise the presence of Christ in their 
midst, and to wait for the manifestation of his spirit. They came 
to see, to hear, and to be entertained. " The preachers," as Gre- 


gory Nazianzen observes, " too often seek to adorn the artless piety 
of our religion by introducing into the sanctuary a new sort of 
secular oratory, borrowed from the forum and the threatre. The 
multitude seek not priests, but rhetoricians ; and I must say some- 
thing in their defence. We have thus brought them up, by our 
desire to become all things to all men, I know not whether for the 
perdition or salvation of all." 

Chrysostom himself whilst at Antioch suffered from this perversion 
of Gospel order. "Most men," he says, " listen, not for improve- 
ment, but to be pleased, and to criticise, just as though a player or 
musician were before them. They require eloquence more peremp- 
torily from preachers tban from professed rhetoricians. . . . The 
most eloquent preacher, unless his discourses come up to the 
measure of their expectations, is exposed to innumerable sneers 
and censures from his audience, none considering that a temporary 
depression of spirits, some anxiety, perhaps a fit of ill-humour, may 
dim the brightness of his intellect, and hinder the development of 
his thoughts ; " and, in a homily delivered some years afterwards 
at Constantinople, he brings out the bitterness of a more extensive 
experience. " Many take infinite pains to prepare a long sermon, 
and if they win applause, it is as though they had gained the king- 
dom of Heaven itself, but if silence follows their discourse the 
dejection wbich covers their spirits is worse tban hell. This has 
turned the churches upside down ; because both you are impatient 
of those discourses which might produce compunction, and will 
endure only such as tickle your ears by their composition and 
euphony ; and we act a pitiful part in suffering ourselves to pander 
to your appetites, when we ought to be combating them. . . . 
When, as I discourse, I hear myself applauded, at the moment as a 
man (why should I not confess the truth ?) I am delighted, and 
indulge in the pleasurable feeling ; but when I get home, and 
bethink me that those who have applauded have derived no benefit, 
from my sermon, but that the good they ought to have received 
was dissipated by their plaudits, I am in pain, I groan and weep, 
and feel as though I had spoken all in vain." 

In 397 Chrysostom's connection with Antioch was suddenly dis- 
solved. Nectarius, bishop of Constantinople, an amiable and 
indolent prelate, died. The appointment to the vacant place 
virtually rested with the eunuch Eutropius, the chief minister of 
the feeble Emperor Arcadius. He cast his eyes upon Chrysostom, 
but fearing lest the people of Antioch should refuse to part with 
their favourite preacher, he had recourse to a stratagem. On a 
false pretext, Chrysostom was induced to visit a martyr's chapel 


outside the city walls. Here he was apprehended by one of the 
Imperial officers, conveyed to the first post-station on the road 
to Constantinople, and being placed in a public chariot and guarded 
by a military escort, he was whirled along from stage to stage over 
the 800 miles which intervened. 1 

Whether the dignity of bishop of the Imperial city, thus thrust 
upon him, was welcome or otherwise, Chrysostom submitted to it 
with a good grace. The probability is that, although it was a 
wrench to be snatched from his native city in the midst of his 
loving labours, the extended field now opened before him for pastoral 
work and for the exercise of his unrivalled powers as a preacher 
fully reconciled him to the change. He was consecrated, a.d. 398, 
by Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, who had been summoned to 
Constantinople for the purpose. But Theophilus who had set his 
mind on another candidate performed the ceremony with the 
utmost reluctance : he would even have entirely refused to act, if it 
had not been for the threats of Eutropius. 

The citizens were not long in perceiving the difference between 
the new bishop and his predecessor. Nectarius had lived in a style 
of luxury and magnificence, which to Chrysostom's severe character 
seemed to be utterly inconsistent with the profession of a Christian 
bishop. He accordingly disfurnished the episcopal residence, sold 
the costly plate and rich carpets, and with the proceeds erected 
hospitals for the sick and strangers, and provided for the support of 
virgins and widows. He even disposed of some of the marbles and 
other ornaments of the churches. Instead of interchanging grand 
dinners with the wealthy, he ate the simplest fare in his solitary 
chamber. He avoided the Court and the company of the great, and 
even seems to have regarded social intercourse with his fellow-men 
as waste of time. The bishops who visited Constantinople no 
longer found the episcopal palace open to them, Chrysostom 
alleging that there were houses of the faithful in abundance where 
they would meet with a welcome. One, a Syrian bishop named 
Acacius, was so provoked by the meanness of the table and lodging 
which had been provided, that he exclaimed, "I'll season his pot 
for him." 

Besides carrying into the episcopal palace the habits he had 
acquired in the cloister, and thus ignoring some of the duties of his 
exalted station, Chrysostom provoked hostility by his ecclesiastical 
reforms. The moral tone of the clerical order had sunk to a low 

1 From Antioch to Constantinople was reckoned a week's journey travelling 
day and night. 


ebb worldliness, avarice, flattery of the great, and yet graver 
faults were common. A thorough reform was needed, and Chrysos- 
tom set himself to the arduous task with unsparing severity. His 
measures were rendered the more unpalatable by his unbending 
manner and irritable temper. From the reform of the clergy he 
passed to that of the Court. The dissolute manners and frivolous 
lives of the nobles and Court ladies furnished a frequent theme for 
his discourses, and the fulminations he uttered from the pulpit, 
whilst they drew immense crowds to the cathedral and daily 
increased his popularity with the multitude, continually raised up 
new enemies against him. 

Before, however, we enter on the memorable contest with vice 
and folly in high places, which in the end caused Chrysostom's 
downfall, we must introduce two episodes his work of evangelisa- 
tion amongst the Goths, and his connection with the fate of the 
minister Eutropius. 

Many thousand Goths dwelt in Constantinople and the neigh- 
bouring provinces, and Chrysostom, zealous for the recovery of this 
people from the Arian doctrine, set apart one of the churches in the 
city for divine service in their native tongue. One Sunday, about 
the year 396, he himself attended. The Bible was read in the 
translation of Ulfilas, and a discourse delivered in Gothic by a 
Gothic preacher. A number of Chrysostom's own congregation 
seem to have been present, and he took advantage of the scene 
before him to deliver an eloquent discourse (interpreted into Gothic) 
on the transforming power of Christianity. Quoting Isaiah (lxv. 
25), " the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion 
shall eat straw like the ox," he said: "The prophet is not speaking 
here of lions and lambs, but predicting that, subdued by the power 
of the divine doctrine, the brutal sense of rude men should be 
transformed into gentleness, and they should unite in the same 
community with the meek. And this you have witnessed to-day, 
the most savage race of mankind standing side by side with the 
lambs of the Church one pasture, one fold for all, one table set 
before all." Besides his care for the Goths in and around the city, 
he also sent forth missionaries to those tribes which had remained 
on the banks of the Danube, consecrating a native to be their 
bishop ; and he showed a like interest in the Syrian nomads. Up 
to the end of his life, he did not cease, in sickness and exile, to 
further these cherished aims. 

Between Chrysostom and the minister Eutropius, by whom he 
had been raised to the primacy, there was nothing in common. 
The latter was cruel and rapacious ; and he found in the new 


bishop, instead of a subservient tool, a man of lofty spirit who 
vigilantly guarded the ecclesiastical prerogative. "When the victims 
of Eutropius' extortions fled to the churches to claim the right of 
asylum, they found in Chrysostom a powerful and resolute protector. 
In an evil hour for himself the minister had procured from the 
feeble Emperor a law abolishing the privilege of sanctuary. By a 
change of affairs at Court, Eutropius suddenly fell from his lofty 
station. Deprived of his rank, his property confiscated, driven 
from the palace, and exposed to the insults of the populace, he 
found himself homeless and friendless. Whither should he flee ? 
No asylum remained but through the very door which he had done 
his best to close. He might still find that door open. The law 
which he had made was hateful to the clergy, it might be that the 
bishop would connive at its violation, even by the very man who 
had framed it. "In the guise of a suppliant, tears streaming down 
his cheeks, his scant grey hairs smeared with dust, he crept into the 
cathedral, pushed aside the curtain which divided the chancel or 
sanctuary from the nave, and, clinging closely to the ' holy table,' 
awaited the approach of the bishop or any of the clergy. The 
enemy was on his track. As he lay quaking with terror, he could 
hear on the other side of the thin partition the trampling of feet, 
mingled with the clattering of arms and voices raised in threatening 
tones by soldiers on the search. At this crisis he was found by the 
bishop in a state of pitiable and abject terror, his cheek blanched 
with a death-like pallor, his teeth chattering, his whole frame 
quivering, as with faltering lips he craved the asylum of the 
Church. . . . Chrysostom led the unhappy fugitive to the sacristy, 
and, having concealed him there, confronted his pursuers, asserted 
the inviolability of the sacred precincts, and refused to surrender 
the refugee. ' None shall penetrate the sanctuary save over my 
body ; the Church is the bride of Jesus Christ, who has entrusted 
her honour to me, and I will never betray it ! ' The soldiers 
threatened to lay violent hands on the bishop ; but he freely pre- 
sented himself to them, and only desired to be conducted to the 
Emperor, that the whole affair might be submitted to his judgment. 
He was accordingly placed between two rows of spearmen, and 
marched like a prisoner from the cathedral to the palace." In the 
presence of Arcadius he maintained the same lofty tone : " What 
were human laws when weighed against divine ? " The Emperor 
was unable to resist the authority with which he spoke, and promised 
to respect the asylum. But when the soldiers heard this, they 
were furious at the loss of their victim, and it was only by a 
passionate harangue, ending with a flood of tears, that Arcadius 


succeeded in restraining them from breaking into the chancel and 
dragging forth the suppliant. 

" The next day was Sunday. The places of public amusement 
were deserted, and the cathedral was filled with a vast concourse of 
men and women. All were in a flutter of expectation to hear what 
the Golden Mouth would utter in defence of the Church's privilege, 
and in defiance of the law. The bishop took his seat in the ambo; 1 
all faces were upturned ; but, before the preacher uttered a word, 
the curtain which separated the nave from the chancel, was partially 
drawn aside, and disclosed the cowering form of the unhappy 
Eutropius clinging to one of the columns which supported the holy 
table. Presently the bishop burst forth: 'Vanity of vanities I 
"Where is now the pomp of yonder man's consulship ? Where his 
torch-light festivities ? "Where the applause which once greeted 
him ? "Where his banquets and garlands ? They are gone, all 
gone ; one rude blast has shattered all the leaves, and shows us the 
tree stripped quite bare, and shaken to its very roots. . . . Vanity 
of vanities ; all is vanity. These words should be inscribed on our 
walls and on our garments, in the market-place, and by the way- : 
side, but above all on our consciences.' Then, turning towards the 
pitiable figure by the holy table : ' Did I not continually warn thee 
that wealth is a runaway slave, a thankless servant ? but thou 
wouldst not heed. Lo, now experience has proved to thee that it is 
not only fugitive and thankless, but murderous also ; for this it is' 
which causes thee now to tremble. Did I not tell thee, when thou : 
rebuked me for speaking the truth, that I loved thee better than thy 
flatterers ? If thou hadst endured my wounds, the kisses of thy 
enemies would not have wrought thee this destruction. . . . The 
Church which thou treated as an enemy has opened her bosom to 
receive thee ; the theatre which thou favoured has betrayed thee, 
and whetted the sword against thee.' "... Then, turning back 
again to the audience, he declared that the trembling suppliant 
whom they beheld was "the ornament of the altar." " ' "What,* 
you will say, ' this iniquitous rapacious creature an ornament to the 
altar ! ' Hush ! the sinful woman was permitted to touch the feet 
of Jesus Christ Himself." . . . Addressing himself especially to 
the rich, he said : " Such a spectacle as this, of one lately at the 
pinnacle of power, now crouching with fear like a hare or a frog, 
chained to yonder pillar, not by fetters, but by fright, is sufficient 

1 Or reading-desk, from which, on account of his low stature, he could be 
better heard than from the pulpit. The most usual practice was for the 
preacher to sit, the people to stand. 



to subdue arrogance, and teach the truth of the Scripture precept, 
4 All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of 
grass.' " 

After remaining several days in the sanctuary, perhaps finding 
his asylum no longer safe, Eutropius quitted it, and escaped in dis- 
guise from the city. He was taken, tried on sundry charges of 
treason, and beheaded. 

The beautiful Eudoxia, the haughty and intriguing wife of 
Arcadius, was the real sovereign of the East. For a short while 
Chrysostom enjoyed her favour. Soon after his arrival she was 
seized with "a fit of religious excitement," which found vent in the 
translation of some martyrs' relics to the great church of St. Thomas 
in Drypia, nine miles from the city. The august ceremonial took 
place at night ; " the Empress in her royal diadem and purple, 
attended by nobles and ladies of distinction, walked by the side of 
the bishop in the rear of the chest enclosing the sacred bones," and 
so vast was the number of torches that Chrysostom compares the 
procession to a river of fire. It was dawn before they reached the 
Church. The bishop ascended the pulpit and preached a sermon 
full of "extravagant laudations of Eudoxia, and of ecstatic ex- 
pressions of joy " at this auspicious event. 

But Eudoxia's devotion presently " burnt itself out." Chrysos- 
tom soon saw occasion to change his opinion of her, and even to 
censure her conduct, as well as that of the courtiers, a course of 
action which turned her imperial favour into implacable enmity. 

Chrysostom's zeal for the maintenance of Church discipline 
carried him beyond the bounds of discretion. Not content with 
setting his own diocese in order, he quitted the capital for Asia 
Minor, a.d. 401, to correct some flagrant abuses in Ephesus and 
the neighbouring sees. He left Constantinople in charge of a 
bishop named Severian. . The harshness with which Chrysostom 
exercised his usurped authority at Ephesus increased the number 
of his enemies ; and the length of his absence from the capital gave 
them opportunity to conspire against him. 1 

On his return he found that through the treachery of Severian 
the affairs of the Church at Constantinople had fallen into confusion. 
Instead, however, of adopting the measures which prudence would 
have dictated, he was excited to a vehement display of his feelings. 
In his very first sermon he attacked Severian. A few days later he 
aimed his shafts higher, and held up to public odium the whole 
cabal of bishops who played the part of court flatterers, and even 

1 He deposed twenty bishops in the course of his visitation. 


Eudoxia herself. Like Ambrose, he compared the Empress to 
Jezebel. "Gather together to me,". he exclaimed, "those base 
p>riests that eat at Jezebel's table, that I may say to them, as Elijah 
of old, ' How long halt ye between two opinions ? ' . . . If Jezebel's 
table be the table of the Lord, eat at it ; eat at it till you vomit." 
The allusion was too patent to be mistaken. From that moment 
his fate was sealed. 

The conduct of Chrysostom on this occasion has been much 
praised. No one will deny that it manifested daring courage ; but 
courage is not everything in a .Christian minister. This outburst 
of indignation was indeed far nobler than his previous flattery, but 
it was not wise or defensible. To speak of the faults of others 
behind their back is contrary to Gospel rule, and it does not mend 
the matter if the defamation is public, and in the presence of 
thousands. Moreover, the respect and honour which are due to all 
men, are doubly due to kings and those in authority. When Paul 
administered a richly deserved rebuke to the high-priest Ananias, he 
apologised, because of the commandment, " Thou shalt not speak 
evil of the ruler of thy people." Again, the object of reproof is 
reclamation, but the offender is hardly likely to give heed to the 
reproof when it is wrapped in words of fire, and published through 
a trumpet. Evil, too, must have been the effect of Chrysostom's 
philippics on the people of Constantinople. Denunciations of rulers 
and public characters from his golden lips could not fail to render 
the Church more attractive than the theatre. What flattery is 
sweeter to the populace than to be told of the vices of their superiors ? 
And when the ear is filled with such words, no room is left for the 
great purpose for which men come together in the church, the wor- 
ship of God. 

Chrysostom was not without personal friends in high station. 
Besides several men of influence, some eminent women were devoted 
to him and his cause. The most celebrated of these was the 
deaconess Olympias. She was early left an orphan, and came 
nnder the oversight of Gregory Nazianzen, whom she addressed as 
" father," and who loved to call her his " own Olympias." Her 
husband, the prefect of Constantinople, died about two years after 
their marriage, and Olympias regarded this event as an intimation 
that she should consecrate the rest of her days to the Lord. After 
she was made deaconess she seldom departed from the church night 
or day. She gave her time and scattered her wealth with profuse 
liberality, assisting the clergy of Greece, Asia, and Syria in their 
charitable works. Between her and Chrysostom there was a strong 
bond of mutual affection ; " she repaid his spiritual care by many 


womanly attentions, especially by seeing that he was supplied with 
wholesome food, and did not overstrain his feeble constitution by a 
too rigid abstinence." 

The time was not yet ripe for the enemies of Chrysostom openly 
to show themselves. The Empress even found it expedient to 
maintain for a while the semblance of friendship with the popular 
preacher. When, on a charge being preferred against Severian, 
Chrysostom, without inquiry, excommunicated that bishop and 
commanded him to leave the city, Eudoxia presented herself before 
him in the church of the Apostles, placed her infant son on his 
knees and conjured him to reverse the sentence. But Severian, 
though restored, was not reconciled, and the number of Chry- 
sostom's enemies from the ranks of the Court ladies and the 
offended ecclesiastics increased daily. They were joined by the 
bishop Antiochus of Ptolemais, and by Acacius mentioned above, 
who was not at all displeased at the prospect of fulfilling his coarse 

Courtiers and offended bishops were not the only foes against 
whom Chrysostom had to contend. The Arians who had been 
deprived of their churches by Theodosius were determined, if 
possible, to recover their influence in the city. They assembled at 
night in the public piazzas to sing responsive hymns, and at break 
of day marched in procession through the midst of the city, passing 
out at the gates to their places of worship. To make these demon- 
strations more defiant they interspersed with the hymns insulting 
questions or expressions. Chrysostom, to counteract their in- 
fluence, organised similar processions of the Orthodox, and as 
these were the more numerous party, and the Empress placed her 
purse at their disposal, they presently surpassed the others in 
pomp, carrying crosses of silver illuminated by wax tapers. This- 
display provoked the Arians to attack their rivals. Blood was shed 
on both sides, and the Imperial eunuch who was leading the Homo- 
ousion choir was wounded. On this the Emperor forcibly put a 
stop to the Arian processions. The historian who relates this 
occurrence refers to it as the origin of such public demonstrations : 
" Tlie Orthodox party," he says, " having thus commenced the 
practice of singing hymns in procession, did not discontinue it, bat 
have retained it to the present day." 1 

1 " Chrysostom in Constantinople sealed the victory of the Catholic party. 
He achieved what all the edicts of Theodosius failed to do ; detached the 
populace of the city from their persistent and often tumultuous support of 
Aiianism, and before the end of his brief opportunity made them devoted 
adherents of himself, and through himself of the Catholic Church." 


The Court party only wanted a leader to open the campaign 
against Chrysostom. One was found in Theophilus, the bishop of 
Alexandria, who had so unwillingly consecrated him to the episcopal 
<}hair. He was " a man who knew better how to manage a court 
intrigue than how to resolve a question of divinity, and the only 
rule by which he shaped his opinions was interest or ambition." 
It suited his purposes to institute a persecution of the monks of 
the Nitrian desert, and particularly of the Tall Brethren spoken of 
in a former chapter, now far advanced in years. Many fled from 
the country, and the four Brethren with about fifty companions, 
after many hardships, arrived at length at Constantinople. 

They repaired at once to Chrysostom, who received them with 
great respect, and shed tears of compassion when he heard the tale 
of their sufferings and wanderings. But he acted with caution. 
He lodged them in the precincts of the church of Anastasia, but 
refused to admit them to the Eucharist until their cause was 
examined and their excommunication revoked. Finding themselves 
still pursued by the emissaries of Theophilus, they resolved to 
make an appeal to the Empress. One day, as she was riding to 
church, a party of them presented themselves before her, in their 
11 white sheepskins and bare arms and knees." She stopped her 
litter, bowed graciously to them, and implored their prayers on 
behalf of the Emperor, herself, and her children ; and when they 
besought her protection, she promised that a council should be 
convened, and Theophilus summoned to attend. 

On receiving these tidings Theophilus was furious. Epiphanius , 
bishop of Cyprus, 1 a restless controversialist, was foremost amongst 
the opponents of Origen, whom he designated the u ancestor of the 
Arian heresy." This man, then verging towards ninety years old, 
Theophilus sent to Constantinople, at once to extinguish Origenism, 
and to bring Chrysostom to account for sheltering the Tall Brethren. 
On Epiphanius' arrival, Chrysostom received him courteously, and 
invited him to take up his abode in the episcopal palace ; but 
Epiphanius, rejecting his overtures, called together the bishops who 
were then in the city, and laying before them the decree of his own 
provincial council against the writings of Origen, required them to 
put their hands to it. Some complied; others refused. Amongst 
the latter was a Goth who had adopted the name of Theotimus, and 
had been appointed metropolitan of Lesser Scythia. He was not 

1 The same we met with in the Early Church History as protesting against 
oaths and pictures in churches, and also as condemning, in his work Against 
Hertsies, the reformer Aerius, pp. 134, 270, 311. 


only bishop ; he was also physician and commercial agent to the 
nomadic tribes. Only half a convert to Greek habits, he still 
allowed his long hair to float over his episcopal robe. Educated 
in Greece, he had carried back with him some precious books ; and 
when not galloping across the plains, or baptizing some barbarian, 
he would unroll his parchments, and drink at the flowing spring of 
knowledge which the earlier writers, especially Origen, had opened. 
The anathemas uttered against his favourite author by Epiphanius 
and those who sided with him, astonished and shocked him. He 
made no reply at the moment, but when the bishops met again, the 
Gothic bishop drew from the folds of his garment a roll which he 
began to read in a loud voice. It contained passages from Origen 
of unimpeachable doctrine, glowing with elevated thoughts and 
ardent faith. Passage succeeded passage ; and when at length 
Theotimus paused, it was only to give vent to his pent-up indigna- 
tion. " I cannot comprehend, my brethren, how any one should 
dare to asperse a man who has written a thousand passages as 
excellent as these, and to pronounce him a child of Satan and an 
arch-heretic. If you find in his books anything less admirable than 
what I have read, or even something which you cannot approve, lay 
it on one side ; leave the bad and choose the good." 

Epiphanius had not been long at Constantinople before he dis- 
covered that he had come upon a fool's errand, and growing weary 
of the miserable business he returned to Cyprus. He bade fare- 
well to the bishops who accompanied him to the ship, with these 
words : " I leave you your city, and your Imperial palace, and all 
this stage-acting." 

In accordance with the promise given by Eudoxia to the monks, 
Theophilus was summoned to Constantinople. He hailed the 
occasion as the wished-for opportunity of accomplishing the ruin 
of Chrysostom. He was attended by a strong body-guard of sailors, 
and took with him costly presents for the disaffected clergy and 
persons of rank. He did not even scruple to give out, whilst on 
his journey, that he was going to depose Chrysostom for grave 
offences. Many bishops accompanied him from Egypt and Asia, 
some of the latter being those whom Chrysostom had deposed. So 
far from conducting himself as one accused, he made his entry 
into Constantinople " surrounded by the pomp and dignity of a 

Chrysostom did not fail to offer to Theophilus the hospitality due 
to a brother bishop, but it was disdainfully rejected. Theophilus 
took up his lodging in one of the Emperor's palaces in the suburb 
of Pera. During the three weeks he resided there he refused all 



communication with Chrysostom. " His house was the resort of 
the disaffected clergy, and the affronted ladies and gentlemen, wh6 
were drawn thither, not only hy a common hatred to Chrysostom, 
but also by the handsome gifts, the dainty repasts, and the winning 
flattery of Theophilus." 

Chrysostom was directed by the Court to repair to Pera and 
open an inquiry into the offences of which Tbeophilus was accused. 
Either from some scruple as to his ecclesiastical jurisdiction, or 
from the love of peace, he declined. It was now Theophilus' 
turn to bring his rival to account. Not daring to institute pro- 
ceedings in the city itself, he assembled a synod in the Asiatic 
suburb of Chalcedon, which, from the position of the mansion 
in which it was held, near to a celebrated tree, was called the Synod 
of the Oak. It was attended by only thirty- six bishops, of whom 
twenty-nine were Egyptians. Two deacons who had been de- 
graded by Chrysostom for gross misconduct were suborned to 
prefer charges against him, and he was summoned to defend him- 
self before the council. 

The scene which took place when Chrysostom received the sum- 
mons is thus described by his biographer, Palladius. We give it a3 
translated by Mr. Stephens. " "We were sitting, to the number of 
forty bishops, in the dining-hall of the palace, marvelling at the 
audacity with which one, who had been commanded to appear as a 
culprit at Constantinople, had arrived with a train of bishops, had 
altered the sentiments of nobles and magistrates, and perverted 
the majority even of the clergy. "Whilst we were wondering, John 
[Chrysostom] , inspired by the Spirit of God, addressed to us the 
following words : ' Pray for me, my brethren, and if ye love Christ, 
let no one for my sake desert his see, for I am now ready to be 
offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I know the 
intrigues of Satan, that he will not endure any longer the burden 
of my words delivered against him.' Seized with inexpressible 
sorrow, some of us began to weep, and others to leave the assembly, 
after kissing, amid tears and sobs, his sacred head and eyes and 
eloquent mouth. He, however, exhorted them to return, and as 
they hovered near like bees humming round their hive, ' Sit down, 
my brethren,' he said, * and do not weep, unnerving me by your 
tears, for to me to live is Christ, to die is gain. Recall the words 
which I have so frequently spoken to you : our present life is a 
journey ; both its good and painful things pass away ; present time 
is like a fair : we buy, we sell, and the assembly is dissolved. Are 
we better than the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, that this 
life should remain to us for ever?' Here one of the company* 


uttering a cry, exclaimed, ' Nay, but what we lament is our bereave- 
ment, and the widowhood of the Church ; the derangement of 
sacred laws ; the ambition of those who fear not the Lord and 
violently seize the highest positions ; the destitution of the poor, 
and the loss of sound teaching.' But John replied, striking (as 
was his custom) the palm of his left hand with the forefinger of his 
right, ' Enough, my brother no more ; only, as I was saying, do 
not abandon your churches ; for neither did the office of teaching 
begin with me, nor in me has it ended. Did not Moses die, and 
was not Joshua found to succeed him ? Did not Samuel die ? but 
was not David anointed ? Jeremiah departed this life, but Baruch 
was left. Elijah was taken up, but Elisha prophesied in his place. 
Paul was beheaded, but did he not leave Timothy, Titus, Apollos, 
and a host of others to work after him ?' " 

At this point it was announced that two deputies had arrived 
from the Synod of the Oak. Chrysostom inquired of what rank 
they were, and on hearing they were bishops, begged them to 
be seated, and to declare the purpose of their coming. " We are," 
said they, " the bearers of a document which we request thou wilt 
command to be read." It was a citation, and as though Chry- 
sostom had already been degraded, he was addressed only by his 
name. " The Holy Synod assembled at the Oak to John. We 
have received," so ran the paper, " an infinite number of charges 
against thee : present thyself therefore before us, bringing with 
thee the priests Serapion and Tigrius, for their presence is neces- 
sary." Chrysostom's friends were indignant at the insolence of the 
message, and drew up a reply addressed to Theophilus, of which 
three bishops and two priests were the bearers. It was in these 
words : " Subvert not nor rend the Church for which God became 
incarnate ; but if, in contempt of the canons framed by 318 bishops 
at Nicsea, thou wilt judge a cause outside thy jurisdiction, cross 
over into our city, which is at least governed by law, and do not, 
after the example of Cain, call Abel out into the open field. For 
we on our side possess charges of palpable crimes against thee, 
drawn up under seventy heads ; and we by the grace of God are 
assembled after a peaceful manner, not for the disruption of the 
Church, and are besides more numerous than you, for with thee 
there are but thirty-six, but we are forty, seven of whom are 

Chrysostom approved of this answer, but sent also a separate 
letter on his own behalf, addressed not to Theophilus, but to the 
synod. " If you wish me to appear before you, eject from your 
assembly my declared enemies, Theophilus whom I could convi 


of having said, ' I am setting out for the capital to depose John,' 
Acacius, Severian, and Antiochus. If these are removed, I am 
ready to appear, not before you only, but before a council of all 
Christendom. But know that, unless this is complied with, I will 
still refuse to present myself, though you should summon me ten 
thousand times over." 

The charges against Chrysostom were presented under twenty- 
nine heads ; some of them were contemptibly frivolous, and some 
utterly false. " He had struck people on the face ; had calum- 
niated and even imprisoned his clergy ; had illegally deposed 
bishops in Asia, and ordained others without sufficient inquiry ; 
had alienated the property and sold the ornaments of the church ; 
had held private interviews with women ; had dined gluttonously 
by himself as a cyclops ; had robed and unrobed himself on his 
episcopal throne ; had eaten a lozenge after holy Communion ; and 
had administered both sacraments after he himself or the recipients 
had broken their fast." The culminating offence was that of 
uttering treasonable words against the Empress (in comparing 
her to Jezebel), which was construed into exciting the people to 
rebellion. To the citation four times repeated, to appear before 
this packed tribunal, Chrysostom's reply was always the same, 
refusal to attend, and an appeal to a general council. Thus baffled, 
*' the cabal expended their fury on his messengers ; they beat one 
bishop, tore the clothes of another, and placed on the neck of a 
third the chains they had designed for Chrysostom himself; their 
intention having been to put him secretly on board ship and send 
him off to some remote part of the empire." Sentence was pro- 
nounced against him: he was "condemned as contumacious, and 
deposed from his bishopric. The charge of treason his judges left 
to be dealt with by the civil power, secretly hoping that a capital 
sentence would be the issue. To their mortification, however, the 
Imperial rescript, which confirmed the sentence of deposition, con- 
demned the bishop only to banishment for life." 

But if the disappointment of his enemies at the lenity of the 
sentence was great, " the wrath of the populace at the condemna- 
tion of their favourite preacher knew no bounds. As evening wore 
on, the news flew from mouth to mouth, and a crowd collected at 
the doors of his residence and of the great church, to keep watch 
lest he should be forcibly carried off. This voluntary guard pro- 
tected him for three days and nights, during which he continually 
passed from one building to the other. His power over the popular 
mind was never greater." He had the wisdom not to abuse 
it. " The sermons he addressed to the vast crowds which filled 


the cathedral 1 inculcated patience and resignation to the Divine 
will." He himself determined to bow to the storm. On the third 
day he took advantage of the hour of the noontide meal to slip out 
unperceived by a side door, and quietly surrendered himself to the 
Imperial officers, by whom he was conducted after dark to the 
harbour, and put on board a vessel which conveyed him to the 
Bithynian coast. 

11 The victory of his enemies seemed complete. Theophilua 
entered the city in triumphal state, and wreaked his vengeance on 
the bishop's partisans. The people, who had crowded to the 
churches to pour forth their lamentations, were forcibly dislodged, 
not without bloodshed. Furious at the loss of their revered 
teacher, they thronged the approaches to the Imperial palace, 
clamouring for his restoration, and demanding that his case should 
be heard before a general council. Constantinople was almost in 

The following night the city was convulsed by an earthquake. 
The shock was felt with peculiar violence in the Empress's bed- 
chamber. Eudoxia, as superstitious as she was vindictive, fell at 
Arcadius' feet, and entreated him to avert the wrath of Heaven by 
revoking the sentence against Chrysostom. The flexile Emperor 
complied. Messengers were despatched in pursuit of the banished 
prelate, bearing letters from Eudoxia, couched in terms of abject 
humiliation. " Let not thy holiness imagine that I was cognizant 
of what has been done. Wicked men have contrived this plot. I 
remember the baptism of my children by thy hands. God whom 
I serve is witness of my tears." 

" The news of Chrysostom's recall caused a universal jubilee. 
Late in the day as it was, his friends took shipping, and a fleet of 
barks put forth to meet him. The Bosphorus blazed with torches 
and resounded with psalms of welcome. Chrysostom at first 
halted outside the city, claiming to be acquitted by a general 
council before resuming his see. The people suspected treachery, 
and loudly denounced the Emperor and Empress. Apprehensive 
of a serious outbreak, Arcadius sent a secretary to desire Chry- 
sostom to enter the walls without delay. As a loyal subject he 
obeyed. On passing the gates he was borne aloft by a crowd, 
carried into the church, placed on his episcopal seat, and forced to 
deliver an extemporaneous oration. His triumph was now as com- 
plete as that of his enemies had been a few days before." The 
leaders of the cabal could scarcely show themselves in public ; and 

* The Church of St. Sophia. 


after a short delay, Theopbilus, on the plea that his diocese could 
no longer dispense with his presence, left the city by night, and 
sailed for Alexandria. His flight was speedily followed by the 
assembling of about sixty bishops friendly to Chrysostom, who 
annulled the proceedings of the Oak, and declared him to be still 
the legitimate bishop of Constantinople. 

For a while the Empress yielded to the tide, and professed to be 
completely reconciled to Chrysostom. Strange to say, he responded 
to her overtures, and they vied with each other in compliments and 
eulogistic phrases. It is not easy to account for such weakness on 
the part of a man of Chrysostom's high character. The servile 
adulation paid to Oriental monarchs might perhaps be advanced as 
an excuse, if Chrysostom had not shown how easily he could break 
through such trammels. A more probable cause is to be found in 
the fatal maxim he had adopted, that the end sanctifies the means. 
He doubtless persuaded himself that to propitiate the Empress was 
essential to the interests of the Church, even at the expense of 
truth. But this delusive calm was presently succeeded by another 

Lofty as was her position, Eudoxia aspired to still higher 
honours. Not content with the virtual rule of the East, she 
panted for that half-divine homage which by ancient custom was 
still paid to the Emperor himself. 1 She caused her statue to be 
cast in silver, and set up on a lofty column of porphyry in the 
centre of the market-place, in front of the church of St. Sophia. 
Its dedication was accompanied by the boisterous revelry of the old 
pagan rites, which the Christian Emperors, in their short-sighted 
and faithless policy, had retained as a means of preserving the 
loyalty of the people. The sound of the music and dancing was 
heard in the church, and disturbed the service. "Chrysostom's 
holy indignation took fire ; he rushed to the reading-desk, and 

1 " When on rare occasions, Arcadius condescended to show himself in 
public, he was preceded by a vast multitude of attendants glittering in gold. 
The streets were cleared before the Emperor's approach, who stood or reclined 
in a gorgeous chariot adorned with precious stones, and drawn by white mules 
in gilded trappings. The cushions were snow-white ; the carpets of silk, 
embroidered with dragons in the richest colours. Gilt fans, waved by the 
motion of the chariot, cooled the air. The Emperor himself was laden with 
jewels, ears, arms, and brow; whilst his robes of imperial purple, to which 
colour none else might aspire, were embroidered in all their seams with precious 
stones. He was attended by a bodyguard carrying shields with golden bosses 
set round with golden eyes. Ships were employed for the express purpose of 
bringing gold dust to strew the pavement, that the Emperor's foot might touch 
nothing but gold." 


thundered forth a homily, embracing in its fierce invective all who 
had any share in these profanities ; the prefect who ordered them, 
the people who joined in them, and, above all, the arrogant 
woman whose ambition was the cause of them. ' Herodias,' he is 
reported to have exclaimed, ' is once more maddening ; Herodias is 
once more dancing ; once more Herodias demands the head of John 
on a charger.' 1 These scathing words were reported to Eudoxia. 
Can we wonder that all her former fury revived, and that she 
demanded of the Emperor signal redress for such treasonable 
insolence ? Compromise was no longer possible ; the bishop or the 
Empress must yield." 

The hostile bishops who had returned to their dioceses now 
flocked again to the metropolis, ready, with the fashionable ladies 
and the worldly clergy of the city, to contrive new plots for Chry- 
sostom's ruin. He had demanded a general council ; let such a 
council be called, and let his treasonable language against the 
Empress be laid before it, and the result could not be doubtful. 
But to make matters still more secure, Theophilus put forward a 
canon of the Council of Antioch, a.d. 341, pronouncing the ipso 
facto deprivation of any bishop who after deposition should appeal 
to the secular power for restoration. The general council met 
towards the end of the year (403), and seems, without passing any 
formal sentence, to have considered this canon as decisive. 

The Emperor accepted this conclusion, and accordingly, on 
Christmas day, refused to attend divine Service in the cathedral. 
But this token of imperial displeasure was lost on Chrysostom. 
Supported by forty-two bishops, he continued to administer his 
episcopate, and to preach to the people as before. Matters went on 
in this way until near Easter, when it was resolved that Chrysostom 
must be removed at all hazards. Arcadius sent him an order for- 
bidding him to enter the church during Easter. Chrysostom's 
dignified reply was, " I received this church from God my Saviour, 
and am charged with the salvation of this flock, which I am not 
at liberty to abandon. Expel me if thou wilt, since the city 
belongs to thee, that I may have thy authority as an excuse for 
deserting my post." 

Fearing to use force, lest he should again provoke the vengeance 
of Heaven, Arcadius, on the advice of Acacius and Antiochus, 

1 These words are now extant only as the exordium of a homily, ascribed to 
Chrysostom, but pronounced by some of the best critics to be spurious. That 
they nearly represent what was uttered is probable, both from Chrysostom's 
language on the former occasion, and because they could not have been laid 
hold of for his ruin unless they had been in the highest degree offensive. 


commanded the bishop to remain a prisoner in the episcopal palace, 
not leaving it even for the church without permission. The Em- 
peror could scarcely have looked for obedience to this command, 
least of all on Easter Eve (the great season of baptism), when 
three thousand catechumens were expected to present themselves. 
The bishop again answered that he would not desist from officiating,, 
unless compelled by actual force. ** When the time arrived, he 
calmly left his residence and proceeded to the cathedral. The 
Imperial guards, forbidden to use violence, dared not interfere. 
The perplexed Emperor summoned Acacius and Antiochus to his 
presence, and reproached them with the failure of their counsel. 
They replied that Chrysostom being no longer a bishop was acting 
illegally in administering the sacraments, and that they would take 
on themselves the responsibility of his ejection." 

On this, the Emperor at once ordered the guards to act. The- 
church was thronged with worshippers keeping the vigil of the 
Resurrection, and baptism was being administered to the long files of 
catechumens, male and female, whom the deacons and deaconesses- 
had prepared for the rite by the removal of their outer garments. 
Suddenly the din of arms broke the solemn stillness. A body of 
soldiers, sword in hand, burst in, and rushed, some to the bap- 
tisteries, some up the nave to the altar. The catechumens were- 
driven from the fonts at the point of the sword ; women as well as 
men, half-dressed and shrieking, rushed into the streets. Many- 
were wounded, and the baptismal water was red with blood. Others 
of the troop, some of whom were pagans, forced open the inner 
doors, and not only gazed on the sacred vessels, but handled the 
Eucharistic elements, and spilt the wine on their garments. The 
clergy in their liturgical robes were forcibly ejected from the 
church, and with the mingled crowd of men, women and children, 
chased along the dark streets. Taking refuge in the baths of Con- 
stantine, and hastily "blessing" the profane building, to serve as 
a baptistery, they began to collect the terrified catechumens and 
proceed with the ceremonial. But they were again interrupted by 
the soldiery, who drove them out as before ; and the same scene 
was enacted wherever the scattered congregations endeavoured to 
re-unite. " The horrors of that night remained indelibly imprinted 
on the minds of those who witnessed them, and were spoken of 
long afterwards with shuddering." For the greater part of the 
week Constantinople wore the aspect of a city which had been 
taken by storm. The partisans of Chrysostom, now called " Joan- 
nites," were hunted out, thrown into prison and scourged, the- 
sound of the scourge and the oaths of the soldiers being heard even 
in the churches. 


For two months, however, the timid Arcadius could not summon 
resolution to sign the decree for Chrysostom's banishment. At 
length it was signed. The bishop received it with submission, and 
entering the cathedral, said to those who accompanied him, "Come 
and let us pray. At my own fate I can rejoice : I only grieve for 
the sorrow of my people." Then entering the baptistery, he sent 
for Olympias and three other of the deaconesses, to whom he said, 
" Come hither, my daughters, and hearken to me. I have finished 
my course ; perchance you will see my face no more. Submit to 
the authority of my successor. Eemember me in your prayers." 
Overwhelmed with grief, they threw themselves at his feet; he 
made a sign to one of the priests to remove them, lest their wailing 
should be heard outside. Being informed that the troops were in 
readiness to compel him to withdraw, and advised by one of his 
friends to take his departure in secret, he directed that his mule 
should be saddled, and led, according to custom, to the western 
gate of the cathedral. Whilst the people's attention was diverted 
by this feint, he passed out unobserved at a postern, and surrendered 
himself to some of the soldiers. Two faithful bishops accompanied 
him, and a vessel bore them under cover of night across to the 
Asiatic shore. 

When the people discovered that the bishop was gone, they 
became violently agitated. Some rushed to the harbour, others 
made an attack upon the cathedral, and battered the doors, which 
had been locked by the soldiery. Suddenly flames burst forth from 
the building ; all attempts to extinguish them were in vain, and 
this magnificent structure, the erection of Constantine the Great, 
was in three hours reduced to a heap of cinders. 1 The flames 
spread to the senate-house, which was also destroyed. Suspicion, 
real or affected, fell on Chrysostom and his flock ; and a fresh 
chapter of persecution followed, worthy of pagan rule. In fact, the 
government of the city was at the time in the hands of, a pagan 
prefect, who hunted down the follows of the bishop with relentless 
cruelty. To the pretended crime of incendiarism was added that of 
refusal to recognise Chrysostom's successor, Arsacius, a very old 
man, described by Palladius as " more dumb than a fish and more 
incapable than a frog," and who appears to have been appointed 
by the sole fiat of the Emperor. Clergy and laymen, and even 

I ! It was again destroyed a.d, 532, and was rebuilt with yet greater skill and 
splendour, by Justinian, in 544. In 1453, at the capture of the city by, Mdham- 
med II., Justinian's church was converted into a mosque which still beiars the 
name of St. Sophia. 


women, were subjected to intimidation, imprisonment, insult, and 

Those ladies who were most distinguished for their friendship with 
the deposed bishop were taken before the prefect, and admonished to 
acknowledge Arsacius. Some from timidity complied, but others 
met the arbitrary command with a dauntless spirit. Amongst 
these was the deaconess Olympias. Being asked why she had set 
fire to the great church, "My manner of life," she answered, "is 
a sufficient refutation of such a charge. One who has expended 
large sums of money to restore and embellish the churches of God 
is not likely to burn them." "I know thy past course of life well," 
cried the prefect. " If thou knowest aught against it," was the 
intrepid reply, "descend from thy place as judge, and come forward 
as my accuser." Unable to fix any charge upon her, the prefect 
changed his tone, and advised her and the other accused ladies to 
save themselves further trouble by "communicating" with Arsacius. 
Her companions yielded, but Olympias boldly replied : " It is an 
injustice, that, after being publicly calumniated, I should be called 
upon to clear myself of charges utterly foreign to the issue. Not 
even on compulsion will I hold communion with those from whom 
it is my duty to secede." She was mulcted in a heavy fine, which 
she paid, and then withdrew to the other side of the Straits. 

Chrysostom and his friends sent four bishops of their party to the 
bishop of Eome and the Western Churches to inform them of the 
ordeal through which the faithful in Constantinople were passing. 
Innocent expressed his sympathy with the sufferers ; and at the 
request of the Italian bishops, the Emperor Honorius wrote letters 
to his brother Arcadius. But the sympathy and the letters were 
alike fruitless. The bearers were insulted and ill-treated, and com- 
pelled to return to Italy; and the four Eastern bishops were 
banished to distant quarters of the empire, and harried on their way 
with brutal insults and indignities. 

Arsacius survived his elevation to the patriarchate less than a 
year. His successor Atticus was equally determined to stamp out 
the Joannites. The wealthier clergy of the party mostly made 
their peace by concession, the poorer sought refuge in flight, either 
o Eome or the monasteries ; some obtained a precarious livelihood 
by manual labour, farming or fishing: laymen were degraded, fined, 
and banished. Qn the other hand, the delinquent bishops whom 
Chrysostom had expelled were restored ; and ordinations were con- 
ducted with feasting, drunkenness, and bribery. " The spirit of 
lawlessness and selfishness which was let loose during this period 


of misrule, dealt a blow to morality and discipline from which the 
Church at Constantinople never recovered." 

Landing on the Asiatic coast, Chrysostom was conveyed to Nicsea. 
Not until he reached that city was he informed of his destination, 
the mountain village of Cucusus on the borders of Cilicia and 
Armenia, in a lonely valley of the Taurus range. The climate was 
inclement ; the country was exposed to perpetual inroads from the 
Isaurian marauders : it was the hottest season of the year (July), 
and the journey was long and toilsome. His heart sank within 
him. His guards had received instructions to push on with all 
speed ; and although they compassionated the sufferings of their 
prisoner, they dared not disobey. The squalid villages, where the 
convoy halted, furnished no food but black bread, which had to be 
steeped before Chrysostom could masticate it. The water was un- 
wholesome, exciting rather than allaying thirst. Chrysostom was 
seized with ague, yet he was not permitted to halt, but was hurried 
forward to Caesarea in Cappadocia, some 600 miles from the 

" I entered Caesarea," he writes to Olympias, " worn down and 
exhausted, and in the crisis of a tertian fever. There was at first 
no one to nurse me, no physician to be had, no alleviations neces- 
sary for my state. Soon, however, the clergy, the people, monks, 
and medical men flowed in upon me, proffering their services : only 
Pharetrius (the bishop) came not. 1 After a time the disorder 
abated, and I began to think of setting forward, when news was 
brought that the Isaurians were laying waste the country, and that 
the tribune had marched out to oppose them. Whilst things were 
in this posture, a cohort of monks, set on by Pharetrius, came to 
the house where I lodged, and threatened to set it on fire if I did 
not immediately leave the city. So furious was their behaviour 
that the soldiers who came to protect me were overawed, for these 
brutes boasted that they had on former occasions shamefully 
handled the city guard. The prefect sent to Pharetrius, imploring 
him not to expose me to the Isaurian bands, but to allow me a few 
days' delay. But all was of no avail ; the next day the monks re- 
newed their attack ; and about noon, throwing myself into my 
litter, I quitted the city, all the people bewailing my departure, and 
devoting to perdition the man who had occasioned it. 

"Hearing what had taken place, the excellent lady, Seleucia, 
besought me to take up my abode at her villa, some five miles 

He was secretly in league with the enemies of Chrysostom, and had many 
of the monks on his side ; but his clergy were Joannites almost to a man. 


distant, where there was a strong tower, proof against any attack 
which could be made upon it. At the same time she ordered her 
steward, if the monks should pursue me, to summon the peasants 
from her other villas, to contend with them hand to hand. But in 
the middle of the night Pharetrius came to the villa, and with 
vehement threats insisted upon my being ejected. The lady was- 
unable to withstand his importunity, and the presbyter Evetheus,. 
coming into my chamber, and supposing the alarm to be caused by 
the Isaurians, waked me, crying out, ' Eise, I pray thee, the bar- 
barians are upon us ! ' The night was moonless and gloomy ; we 
had no guide, nor any to help us. Expecting death at any 
moment, and almost sinking under my trials, I rose and ordered 
torches to be lighted ; these, however, the presbyter extinguished, 
lest the barbarians, attracted by the light, should rush upon us. 
The way being stony, the mule which carried my litter fell, and I 
was thrown to the ground. Eaising myself, I crawled along, 
Evetheus, who had leaped from his horse, holding my hands. 
From the roughness of the way and the darkness of the night L 
was unable to use my feet." 

It was the end of August before Chrysostom reached Cucusus- 
His reception almost made him forget the sufferings of the journey* 
Every comfort was provided for him ; friends from Constantinople 
and Antioch came to visit him, some even to share his exile. Far 
removed as he now was, he did not settle down in inaction. " The 
three years spent at Cucusus were the most glorious of his life." 
Hitherto, in the perilous position of a popular preacher, his in- 
firmities of temper and character had marred his work. Now 
exiled, shorn of outward honour, and chastened by suffering, he 
yet laboured unremittingly as ever for the weal of his fellow-men. 
His letters are very numerous, and bear witness to his care, not 
alone for his flock in the Imperial city, but for the interests of the 
Churches far and near. "Never did he exert a wider and more 
powerful influence. His advice was sought from all quarters ; no 
important ecclesiastical measure was undertaken without con- 
sulting him. The East was almost governed from a mountain 
village of Armenia." 

His chief hardships were occasioned by the forays of the brigands, 
and the extremes of the climate. With difficulty could he endure 
the severity of the winter. " I am just recalled," he says, in 
another letter to Olympias, "from the gates of death, having 
passed two months in a state of suffering more grievous even than 
the agonies of death itself. All that I seemed to live for was to be 
sensible of the ills with which I was encompassed. Whether it 


was morning or noon, it mattered not ; all was all night to me. I 
passed whole days without rising from my bed; and although I 
kept a good fire, enduring the smoke, and was covered with a pile 
of blankets, and never ventured to the door, I suffered extreme 
torture ; each sleepless night was like a long sea voyage. As soon, 
however, as spring appeared all my ailments left me." 

In the winter of 405, an alarm was raised that the marauders 
were coming. Nearly the whole of the inhabitants fled. Chry- 
sostom and a few faithful companions wandered hither and thither, 
sometimes even passing the night without shelter, until they 
reached a mountain-fort, sixty miles from Gucusus. Here, cut off 
from his friends by the snow and by the brigands, who one night 
had nearly captured the castle, unable to procure his usual medi- 
cines, and the place crowded like a prison, he struggled through the 
winter. With the return of spring the Isaurians retired, and 
Chrysostom went back to Cucusus. After the hill-fort ** this 
desolate little town seemed to him a paradise. His wonderful 
preservation from danger, and the manner in which his feeble 
health, instead of sinking under the accumulated trials of his 
banishment, became invigorated, awoke sanguine anticipations, 
and in his letters written at this time he confidently foretold his 
return to Constantinople." But this was not to be. 

"The unhappy Eudoxia had preceded the victim of her hatred 
to the grave to which she had destined him, but she left other not 
less relentless enemies behind. Stung with disappointment that 
the climate of Cucusus had failed to do the work they intended, 
they obtained a rescript from Arcadius, transferring the exile to 
Pityus, a frontier fortress on the eastern shore of the Euxine, 
where the roots of the Caucasus come down to the sea. This 
was the most inhospitable spot they could choose, and there- 
fore the most certain to rid them of their victim, even if the 
long and toilsome journey should fail to quench the feeble spark 
of life." 

" Two praetorian guards of ferocious temper were selected to 
attend him, with instructions to push forward with merciless haste, 
the hint being privately given that they might expect promotion if 
he died on the road. One of the two furtively showed some little 
kindness to the sufferer, but the other followed literally his instruc- 
tions. The journey was to be made on foot ; towns where Chry- 
sostom might enjoy any approach to comfort, or have the refresh- 
ment of a warm bath, were to be avoided ; all letters were forbidden, 
and the least communication with passers-by was punished with 
blows." So slow was the progress that in three months they had 


travelled no further than Comana, in Pontus. 1 Here it was evident 
that the bishop's strength was exhausted: "his body was almost 
calcined by the sun. Nevertheless his guards hurried him through 
the town ' as if its streets were no more than a bridge.' " 

u Five or six miles beyond Comana stood a chapel erected over 
the tomb of a martyred bishop. Here they halted for the night. 
It is said that in his sleep Chrysostom saw the martyr standing by 
his side, and bidding him be of good cheer, for on the morrow they 
should be together ; and that the priest in charge of the chapel 
saw in a vision the same martyr, bidding him ' prepare a place for 
our brother John.' In the morning Chrysostom earnestly begged 
for a brief respite, but in vain ; he was hurried off, but had scarcely 
gone three miles when a paroxysm of fever compelled his guards to 
carry him back to the chapel. On reaching the place he was sup- 
ported to the altar, and having asked for the white robes of baptism 
he put them on, distributing his own clothes to the bystanders. 
He then partook of the bread and wine, prayed a last prayer, 
uttered his accustomed doxology, ' Glory be to God for all things,' 
and yielded up his spirit." He died a.d. 407, in the sixtieth year 
of his age, and was buried by the side of the martyr in the presence 
of a large concourse of monks and nuns. 

Thirty-one years afterwards, when Theodosius II. was Emperor, 
Chrysostom's body was exhumed and translated with great pomp to 
Constantinople. " As once in his lifetime to greet him on his 
return from exile, so now, but in still greater numbers, the city 
poured itself forth to receive all that remained of their beloved 
bishop. The corpse was deposited near the altar in the church of 
the Apostles, along with the dust of Emperors and bishops, the 
youthful sovereign and his sister Pulcheria assisting at the cere- 
mony, and asking pardon of Heaven for the wrong inflicted by their 
parents on the sainted bishop." 

1 This does not appear to lie in the direct route from Cucusus to Pityus, 
which would surely be up the Euphrates valley. No doubt the detour was pur- 
posely made. Armenian tradition places the site of Comana at some ruins on 
the banks of the Iris, situated two hours' journey east of the large manu- 
facturing town of Tokat. Here Henry Martyn, in 1812, a few months after 
completing the translation of the New Testament into Persian, closed his brief 
devoted life, and lies buried in the Armenian cemetery. There is a similarity 
in the closing scene with that of the brother who had preceded him by so many 
centuries. Like Chrysostom, he was on a long journey across Asia Minor ; he 
was worn by fever, and harassed by hardships, far from friends and loved ones, 
and with none near him but "merciless" and alien attendants. "0, wherx 
shall time give place to eternity," is the last entry in Martyn' s journal. 


Chrysostom, as has been already remarked, was " small of sta- 
ture : his limbs were long, and so emaciated that he compared him- 
self to a spider. His forehead was lofty, expanding at the summit, 
and furrowed with wrinkles ; his head bald ; his eyes deep-set, but 
keen and piercing ; his cheeks pallid and withered ; his chin pointed 
and covered with a short beard." 

Chrysostom's genius was comprehensive and his industry un- 
wearied. In eloquence he was without a rival. " His virtues were 
those of the monk rather than of the Christian citizen." Himself 
of dauntless courage and inflexible purpose, he was unable to make 
allowance for the more pliable temperament of others ; and he was 
wanting in discernment of character, and tact in the management 
of men. His naturally irritable temper was aggravated by feeble- 
ness of digestion, " the excessive austerities of his youth having 
rendered him incapable of taking food, except in very small 
quantities and of the plainest kind." In spite, however, of his 
infirmities, he was, as we have seen, greatly beloved by those who 
were most intimate with him. 

His writings are very voluminous and highly esteemed, especially 
his commentaries on Scripture. 1 He was, however, no reformer- 
The state of the Church cried aloud for teachers of clear vision 
and honest heart, to bring back the golden days ere men began to 
teach for doctrines their own inventions and commandments. 
Chrysostom gave no answer to this call. Spiritually-minded as he 
was, we yet find him giving his countenance to the worst super- 
stitions of the times, and even urging them forward with all the 
force of his eloquence. We have seen how profound was his 
reverence for the ascetic life. In a future chapter we shall- notice 
his extravagant views on celibacy, fasting, and almsgiving, as well 
as the support he gave to the worship of saints and their relics. 
Let us here consider what he has to say on the priesthood and the 
Eucharist. Surely no man ever carried sacerdotal pretensions 
to a greater height, or ever set them forth in more rhapsodical 

" Although the priesthood is discharged upon earth," so he writes 
in his celebrated treatise, "it is ranked among heavenly ordi- 
nances ; for it was established by the Comforter Himself, who has 
entrusted men yet dwelling in the flesh with a ministry like that of 
angels. For if the institutions of the law were awful and most 
impressive, yet that which was made glorious had no glory at all 

1 The Benedictine edition of his works is contained in thirteen large folios, 
one-half being a translation into Latin. In the Greek Church he ranks above 
all other Church writers. 


by reason of the glory that excelleth. . . . Although their abode and 
home is on earth, the priests are entrusted with the management of 
things in heaven, and receive an authority such as God never 
granted either to angels or archangels : to whom it was never said, 
1 Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and 
whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' For 
though even temporal rulers have authority to bind, their power 
reaches only to the body ; whereas this bond penetrates the very 
soul, and passes up into the heavens, where God ratifies the act of 
his priests. . . . Out upon the madness which would despise an 
office so important, without which it is impossible for us to obtain 
either salvation or the blessings which are promised ! For if, 
except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit he cannot 
-enter into the kingdom of God, and if he who does not eat the 
flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is rejected from eternal life, 
and if all these blessings are dispensed only by the holy hands of 
the priest, how can any one without their ministry either escape the 
fire of hell or obtain the crowns which are laid up for us ? . . . . 
Wherefore those who despise the priestly office commit a greater 
crime, and are worthy of a sorer punishment, than even the 
followers of Dathan." 

Not less repugnant to New Testament teaching is the picture 
which presents itself to the preacher's fervid imagination when the 
priest blesses and distributes the bread and wine. u When you see 
the Lord sacrificed and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing 
and praying over the sacrifice, and all the people empurpled with 
his most precious blood, do you then fancy yourself still among 
men, or are you not instantly transported into the heavens, so as, 
laying aside every fleshly sentiment, to look around with naked soul 
and disembodied spirit on celestial objects ? the wondrous 
loving-kindness of God ! He who sits above with the Father is at 
that instant holden in the hands of every one, giving Himself to 
those who clasp and embrace Him, as all may clearly see with the 
eyes of faith. . . . Then, too, there are angels standing near the 
priest ; and all the order of the heavenly powers raise their voice 
in honour of the victim. I once heard a certain person relate what 
an aged and venerable man accustomed to revelations told him, 
namely, that when the sacrifice was offered he suddenly beheld a 
multitude of white-robed angels encompassing the altar and bowing 
down their heads, as soldiers do homage to their prince ; and I 
believe it." 1 

1 In the Order of the Divine Sacrifice, in the Liturgy of the Church of Con- 
stantinople, the " bloodless sacrifice," as the Fathers loved to call it, iB made to 


The communicants, however, were not always thus transported. 
Chrysostom has often to reprove them for occupying the very 
moment of the consecration with worldly business and merriment. 
Many also, he tells us, presented themselves only on great festivals,, 
and then in a most disorderly manner. They hustled one another 
in their eagerness first to reach the table ; and as soon as they had 
partaken of the bread and wine, hurried out of the church without 
waiting for the conclusion of the service. Many who came to par- 
take of the "awful and terrific table," passed their days on the 
race-ground, or hastened away to the forbidden spectacles of the 
stage. " You leave the well of blood, the terrific cup, to go to the 
Devil's well, where your own soul suffers shipwreck. If souls were 
visible, how many could I show you floating there, like the corpses 
of the Egyptians in the Bed Sea." 

It was a common belief in that age, as now in the Komish 
Church, that heaven is to be purchased by good works and self- 
mortification. Such a doctrine is almost inseparable from the 
ascetic life ; Chrysostom thus gives it shape. " As those who are 
in a foreign country, when they wish to return to their own land, 
take pains, a long time beforehand, to collect means sufficient for 
their journey, so surely ought we, who are but strangers on this 
earth, to lay up a store of provisions through spiritual virtue, that 
when our Master shall command our return into our native country, 
we may be prepared, and may carry part of our store with us, 
having sent the other in advance." In one of his letters to Olym- 
pias he invites her to count over her own perfections and to dwell 
with complacency on the heavenly reward which is in store for her. 
The sufferings of life, no less than good works, were similarly 
assigned in the celestial ledger to the credit of the believer. When 
Chrysostom was driven out of Csesarea and dragged along the 
mountain path, he wrote to Olympias : "Are not these trials suffi- 
cient to blot out many sins, and to suggest to me a hope of future 

resemble the Offering on the Cross. The bread was fashioned cross-wise, or in 
four limbs, and impressed with the sign of the cross on each limb. The priest 
taking a "holy spear," performed various touchings and piercings of the 
cruciform cake, elevated it, and replaced it in the charger. Then the deacon, 
nddressing the priest, says, "Slay, Sir"; and the priest immolates the "holy 
cake," saying, " The Lamb of God is slain who taketh away the sin of the 
world." Then the deacon says, " Prick, Sir" ; and the priest pierces the cake 
on the right side with the "holy lance": at the same moment the deacon 
pours wine and water into the chalice. This Order, however, it should be 
stated, although appended to the works of Chrysostom, is, at least in its actual 
form, of a very much later date. 


glory?" 1 But when Olympias, pursuing this mistaken notion to 
its legitimate issue, wrote, " My only thought is how I may increase 
my suffering," Chrysostom seems to have become conscious of 
having ventured too near the precipice. He thus admonishes her i 
" I regard it as something highly sinful that thou professest, volun- 
tarily and designedly, to encourage thoughts which bring sorrow 
with them. Thou certainly art in duty to thyself bound to con- 
trive everything to obliterate sadness from thy mind, but thou 
dost what is agreeable to Satan by augmenting thy grief and 
trouble." 2 

We turn with pleasure from the legal and ritualistic side of Chry- 
sostom's character to the spiritual and Christlike. He was quite 
alive to the vanity of mere outward observances. " We go to the 
church, not merely for the sake of spending a few moments there, 
but that we may come away with some great gain in spiritual 
things. If a child goes daily to school and learns nothing, is his 
regular attendance an excuse for him ? Does it not rather aggra- 
vate his fault ? . . . When you have sung together two or three 
psalms and gone through the ordinary prayers and return home, 
you suppose this is sufficient for your salvation. Have you not 
heard what God says : ' This people honour me with their lips, but 
their heart is far from me ' ?" "In our prayers we pay less respect 
to God than a servant does to his master, a soldier to his general, 
or even a friend to his friend. For we speak to our friends with 
attention, but whilst we are on our knees asking pardon for our 
sins and treating with God about the business of our salvation, our 

1 There is an obvious confusion of ideas in these words. That " our light 
affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly 
an eternal weight of glory," is one thing; that our sins can be purged by 
calamities or sufferings, is another, and a wholly unscriptural doctrine. 

2 Roberts' reflections on Chrysostom's letters (all written from Cucusus) are 
very pertinent. "One shade of melancholy rests upon them all, but the 
melancholy of a mind receiving every dispensation as the work of mercy, and 
the discipline of grace. He bore his banishment, not indeed without occasional 
complaint, but in general with the cheerful fortitude of a Christian soldier. . . . 
Still in these letters we do not perceive, in their just and beautiful proportions, 
those supports under affliction which we look for in a sainted Father of the 
Church of Christ. There are not found in them any distinct references to the 
Cross of Jesus, or to the love and sympathy of that Divine Participator in 
human sorrows, who has offered the refreshment of his hallowed rest to the 
weary and heavy-laden. If we do not find in Chrysostom too high an opinion 
of his own deserts, we cannot but discover in his letters a tendency to claim 
the rewards of Heaven on a title simply based on his sufferings and per- 


mind is at court, or at the bar, and there is no correspondence 
between our thoughts and our words." 

Like Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom deprecated the intolerance 
of that uncharitable age. "To anathematize," he says, "is pre- 
sumptuous ; it is as great a usurpation of Christ's authority as for 
a subject to put on the Imperial purple. The part of a Christian 
is ' to instruct in meekness those who oppose themselves, if God 
peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the 
truth.' But if any man refuse to accept thy counsel, do not hate 
him, turn not from him, but catch him in the net of sincere charity." 
Nevertheless, in this as in other things, he was not always con- 
sistent with himself. We shudder as we read the following to 
Olympias : " If in addition to the rewards of her chastity, her 
fasts, her vigils, her prayers, her boundless hospitality, Olympias 
wishes to enjoy the sight of her adversaries, those iniquitous and 
blood-stained men, undergoing punishment for their crimes, that 
pleasure also shall be hers. Lazarus saw Dives tormented in 
flames. This thou too wilt experience. For if he, who neglected 
but one man, suffered such punishment, what penalty will be 
exacted of men who have overturned so many churches and sur- 
passed the ferocity of barbarians and robbers?" 

In words no less apt now than when they were spoken does Chry- 
eostom urge upon his hearers the debt of Christian love which every 
man, whether called lay or clerical, owes to his fellow. " There are 
many who possess farms and fields, but all their anxiety is to make 
a bath-house to their mansion, to build entrance courts and ser- 
vants' offices : how the souls of their servants are cultivated they care 
not. . . . Ought not every Christian landholder to build a church, 
and to make it his aim before all things else that his people should 
be Christian ? . . . Nothing can be more chilling than the sight of 
a Christian who makes no effort to save others. Neither poverty, 
nor humble station, nor bodily infirmity, can exempt men and 
women from the obligation of this great duty. To hide our 
Christian light under pretence of weakness is as great an insult to 
God as if we were to say that He could not make His sun to shine. 
Every house should be a church, and every father of a family a 
shepherd over his household, responsible for the welfare of all its 
members, even of the slaves, whom indeed the Gospel places in 
their relation to God on the same level with their owners. Whilst 
in earlier days," he was accustomed to say, " the house was by the 
love of heavenly things turned into a church, now the church 
itself, through the earthly mind of those who attend it, is become 
an ordinary house." 


The commentaries of Chrysostom on Scripture are, as already 
said, among the choicest of his works. " One of his maxims was, 
that sound doctrine cannot be extracted from Holy Scripture except 
by a careful comparison of many passages not isolated from their 
context. . . . He had a clear conception of the essential coherence 
between the Old and the New Testament. ' The very words, Old 
and New,' he used to say, 'are relative terms: New, implies an 
antecedent ; Old, preparatory to it.' . . . The commandment, 
' Thou shalt not kill,' attacks the fruit and consequence of sin ; the 
precept, ' Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause,' 
strikes at the root." He held that the entire Bible was written 
under Divine inspiration, and that no passage, no word even, is to 
be disregarded. " Men wrote as they were moved by the Holy 
Spirit ; yet this was not independent of their own human under- 
standing and personal character. The prophet retained his peculiar 
faculties and style ; only all his powers were quickened, energized 
by the Spirit, to the utterance of words which, unassisted, he could 
not have uttered." 

Chrysostom was accustomed to impress on all his hearers the 
duty of reading the Bible for themselves. This was a point on 
which the Church teachers of this age were unanimous, thus un- 
consciously rebuking and condemning the times which succeeded, 
when those who were appointed to teach the Truth took away the 
Book from their flock, and sealed it up as though it were a fountain 
of error. " Give yourselves to the reading of Holy Scripture ; not 
merely hearing it at church, but when you return home take your 
Bible in hand and dive into the meaning of what is written therein. 1 
.... Seating yourselves, as it were, beside these waters, even 
although you may have no one at hand to interpret them, yet will 

you by the diligent perusal of them acquire great benefit 

Divine Providence ordained that the Scriptures should be written 
by publicans, fishermen, tentmakers, shepherds, goatherds, in order 
that the things written should be readily intelligible to all, that the 
artificer, the poor widow, the slave might derive advantage from 
them ; ... as says the prophet, ' They shall be all taught of 
God.' " " If," he says again, " after repeated perusal, the meaning 
of the text is still obscure, have recourse to some one wiser than 
thyself, to a teacher ; God, seeing thy fervour, will Himself, even if 
man does not, open the meaning to thee." . . . Elsewhere he does 

1 It was Chrysostom's practice to give out his text beforehand, in order that 
the congregation might prepare themselves for the sermon by Scripture searching 
and reflection. Augustine likens the zealous Christian who stores up Scripture 
in his memory, against a time of need, to the industrious ant. 


not shrink from fully setting forth the truth on this matter : " Holy 
Scripture does not need the aid of human wisdom for its true 
understanding, but only the revelation of the Spirit." The com- 
mon excuse of the absorbing occupation of the present life he thus 
answers : " Let no one give the cold reply, ' As for me, I am fully 
occupied with business in court, or the interests of the State or my 
craft ; I have a wife to care for, children to maintain, a household 
to manage ; I am a man of the world, and it is not for me to read 
the Scriptures. This duty belongs to those who have betaken 
themselves to the mountains for that very purpose.' How ! Is it 
not precisely because thou art surrounded with worldly cares that 
thou hast more need than they to read thy Bible ? . . . Ignorance 
of Scripture is a great precipice and a deep pit. It begets heresies, 
leads to a corrupt life, and throws everything into confusion." 
"Better the light of the sun should be extinguished than that 
David's words should be forgotten." 

Often did his admonitions remain unheeded. Commencing his; 
lectures on the Acts of the Apostles, he asserts that many of his 
hearers were not aware of the existence of such a book. "We find 
draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And 
even these lock them away in cases, all their care being for the fine- 
ness of the parchment and the beauty of the letters. For they did 
not buy them to be benefited, but to show their wealth and pride." 
" Gentlemen," he says again, " are acquainted with the characters, 
families, and native cities of charioteers and dancers, and can tell 
the breeding, training, sires and dams of the horses that run in the 
races ; but not one probably knows the titles of Paul's Epistles." 1 

Chrysostom is clear and emphatic on the nature of Sin. " There 
is only one thing," he writes to the faithful Olympias, " which is 
really terrible ; there is only one real trial, and that is Sin. 
Spoliation of goods is freedom; banishment is but a change of 
abode ; death is but the discharge of nature's debt, which all must 
pay. These, and all other evils, when compared with Sin, are but 
as dust and smoke." Sin is " a terrible pit, containing fierce 
monsters, and full of darkness ; as fire, which when once it has got 
a hold on the thoughts of the heart, if it is not quenched, spreads 
further and further ; as a weight, heavier and more oppressive than 
lead." He combats the error of supposing that sin is more par- 
donable in a man of the world than in a monk. Anger, unclean- 
ness, swearing are equally sinful in all. " Nothing," he says, 

1 The Scriptures at this time were not so scarce as we sometimes imagine. 
Copies were greatly multiplied and widely diffused. "Even Britain," says 
Chrysostom, " abounds with the word of Life." 


"has inflicted more injury on the moral tone of society than 
the supposition that strictness of life is demanded of the monk 

But on Eepentance our author is not equally sound. In his 
nine homilies on this duty delivered at Antioch, he enumerates the 
several paths which lead to it. They are (1) Confession ; (2) 
Mourning for sin ; (3) Humility ; (4) Almsgiving (the queen of 
virtues, the readiest of all ways of getting to heaven, and the best 
advocate there) ; (5) Hourly prayer ; (6) Fasting (which makes 
angels of men). The confession here spoken of was not the 
auricular confession of the Romish Church, now required as a. 
necessary condition of Communion, but was usually public, and 
when private, was always voluntary. On this point Chrysostom's 
testimony is of great value. "I do not require thee to discover 
thy sins to men, but to show thy wounds unto God, who will not 
reproach but only heal thee. ... Is it to a man that thou con- 
fessest, to a fellow- servant, who might expose thee ? Nay, it is to 
the Lord, thy physician, thy friend, who says, ' Confess thy sin to 
Me alone, and I will deliver thee.'" 

The reader of the Early Church History may remember the 
beautiful passages from Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and 
Origen on the subject of Prayer. 1 Chrysostom is not unworthy to 
be placed beside them. " The effect of prayer on the heart is like 
that of the rising sun on the natural world. The wild beasts come 
forth by night to prowl and devour, but the sun arises, and they 
get them away and lay them down in their dens ; so, when the 
soul is illuminated by prayer, the irrational and brutal passions are 
put to flight. Prayer is the treasure of the poor, the security of 
the rich ; the poorest of men is rich if he can pray, and the rich 
man who cannot pray is miserably poor. . . . It is impossible that 
a man who with becoming zeal calls constantly on God, should sin ; 
he is proof against temptation so long as tbe effect of his praying 
endures, and when it begins to fail he must pray again. And this 
may be done anywhere, in the market or in the shop, since prayer 
demands the outstretched soul rather than the extended hands. 
Avoid long prayers which give opportunity to Satan to distract the 
attention ; prayers should be frequent and short ; it is in this 
way we can best comply with Paul's direction to pray without 

Notwithstanding his legality, Chrysostom could preach salvation, 
by Christ free and full. "What reward shall I render unto the 
Lord for all His benefits ? Who shall express His glorious acts, or 

1 Early Church History, pp. 77, 78. 


show forth all His praise ? ' He abased Himself that He might 
exalt thee ; He died to make thee immortal ; He became a curse 
that thou mightest obtain a blessing. . . . Say not, I have sinned 
much ; how can I be saved ? Thou art not able, but thy Master is 
able so to blot out thy sins that no trace even of them shall remain. 
In the natural body, though the wound be healed yet the scar 
remains ; but God does not suffer the scar even to remain, but 
together with release from punishment, grants righteousness also, 
and makes the sinner to be equal to him who has not sinned. . . . 
Sin is drowned in the ocean of God's mercy, just as a spark is 
extinguished in a flood of water." 

We will pluck one more leaf from his spiritual meditations. The 
subject is thanksgiving. " Let us give thanks to God continually. 
For it is monstrous that, enjoying as we do his bounty in deed 
every day, we should not so much as in word acknowledge the 
favour ; and that too, although the acknowledgment again yields 
all its profit to us, since He needs not anything of ours, but we 
stand in need of all things from Him. . . . But let us be thankful, 
not for our own blessings alone, but also for those of others ; for 
in this way we shall be able both to destroy our envy, and to 
strengthen and purify our charity ; since it will not be possible for 
thee to go on envying those in behalf of whom thou givest thanks 
to the Lord." 

It is evident that two opposite influences strove together in 
Chrysostom, the ritual and the spiritual. Isaac Taylor, remarking 
on the impossibility of holding the two in equipoise, and on the 
vain endeavour of certain of the Fathers to do this, adduces Chry- 
sostom as the most illustrious example of failure. " How does he 
toil and pant in this bootless task ! Personally too much alive to 
the spiritual and vital reality of the Christian scheme, to be quietly 
willing to let it disappear ; and yet far too deeply imbued with the 
Gnostic and the Brahminical feeling, and too intimately compro- 
mised as a public person with the Church doctrines of the times, 
he could never rest. . . . Few great writers offer so little repose ; 
few present contrasts so violent ; as if his cynosure had been a 
binary star, shedding contrary influences upon his course. And so 
it was in fact. Scarcely is there a homily all of a piece ; hardly 
are there two consecutive passages that can be read without a sur- 
prise, amounting to a painful perplexity, until the secret of all this 
contrariety is understood ; and then it becomes manifest enough 
that, within the writer's soul, a spiritual Christianity, which should 
have been uppermost, was ever wrestling with Church doctrines 
and Gnostic sentiments, which would be uppermost." 

( 109 ) 



Etjsebitjs Hieronymus was born about the year 346 l at Stridon,. 
near Aquileia, at the head of the Adriatic. At the age of seven- 
teen,' he was sent to Home to complete his studies : his teacher 
was the famous grammarian Aelius Donatus. Here Jerome used 
on Sundays to visit the catacombs ; 8 he also began to collect a 
library, which he afterwards carried with him wherever he went.* 
He relates that he yielded to the temptations which the great 
capital so plentifully presented, and fell into sin. 

At the age of five and twenty we find him at Aquileia, one of & 
circle of young men who devoted themselves to sacred studies and 
to the ascetic life. The most celebrated of these was the historian 
Eufinus, between whom and Jerome there sprang up so ardent a 
friendship that they were compared to Damon and Pythias. But 
Jerome was as violent in his antipathies as in his friendships ; and 
he gave full scope to the acerbity of his nature when, on his retire- 
ment with his brother Paulinian to lead a hermit life on their 
paternal estate at Stridon, he fell under the displeasure of the 
bishop. In his correspondence with that dignitary, his language 
was most abusive, and it was now that he commenced the offensive 
practice of holding up his antagonist to ridicule by fastening upon 
him an opprobrious epithet, a practice which unhappily he followed 
through life. 

There floated before Jerome's imagination an alluring vision of 
the East, the cradle and paradise of monasticism ; and in 373 the 
two brothers with a few intimate friends directed their course 
thither. Passing through Csesarea in Cappadocia, they made the 
acquaintance of Basil, who by the recent death of Athanasius 
had become the leading churchman of the Catholic party in the 

At Antioch, Jerome fell sick and had a strange vision connected 
with his classical studies which sat uneasy on his conscience. 

1 Or about a.d. 340. The dates assigned greatly vary. 
1 Or fourteen. * See Early Church History, p. 272. 

* " The Alexandrian manuscripts," he says, "emptied my purse." When 
he was permitted to use the library of Pamphilus in Caesarea, containing all the 
works of Origen, he thought himself richer than Crcesus. 


What lie saw he related long afterwards in a letter to a noble 
Eoman lady : " When, years ago, I had torn myself from home, 
and parents, sister and friends, for the kingdom of heaven's sake, 
I could not part with the books which with very great care and 
labour I had collected at Eome. And so, unhappy man that I was, 
I followed up my fasting by reading Cicero ; or, after a night of 
watching, after shedding tears, which the remembrance of my past 
sins drew from my inmost soul, I took up Plautus. If sometimes, 
coming to myself, I began to read the prophets, their inartistic 
style repelled me. When my blinded eyes could not see the light, 
I thought the fault was in the sun, not in my eyes. While the old 
serpent thus deceived me, about the middle of Lent a fever seized 
me, and so reduced my strength that my life scarce cleaved to my 
bones. They began to prepare for my funeral. My whole body 
was growing cold, only a little vital warmth remained in my 
breast ; when suddenly I was caught up in spirit, and brought 
Defore the tribunal of the Judge. So great was the glory of his 
presence, and such the brilliancy of the purity of those who sur- 
rounded Him, that I cast myself to the earth, and did not dare to 
raise my eyes. Being asked who I was, I answered that I was a 
Christian. ' Thou liest,' said the Judge, ' thou art a Ciceronian 
and no Christian, for where thy treasure is there is thy heart also ! ' 
Thereupon I was silent. He ordered me to be beaten, but I was 
tormented more by remorse of conscience than by the blows : I 
said to myself, ' Who shall give thee thanks in hell ? ' Then I 
cried, with tears, ' Have mercy upon me, Lord, have mercy upon 
me ! ' My cry was heard above the sound of the blows. Then 
they who stood by, gliding to the knees of the Judge, prayed Him 
to have mercy on my youth, and He gave me time for repentance 
on penalty of more severe punishment if I should ever again read 
pagan books. I, who in such a strait would have promised even 
greater things, made oath and declared by his sacred Name, 
Lord, if ever I henceforth possess profane books or read them, let 
me be treated as if I had denied thee ! ' After this oath they let 
me go, and I returned to the world. To the wonder of all who 
stood by, I opened my eyes, shedding such a shower of tears, that 
my grief would make even the incredulous believe in my vision. 
This was not mere sleep, or a vain dream, such as often deludes 
us ; the tribunal before which I lay is witness, that awful sentence 
which I feared is witness ; so may I never come into a like judg- 
ment. I protest that my shoulders were livid, that I felt the blows 
after I awoke, and thenceforward I studied divine things with 
greater ardour than ever I had studied the things of the world." 


Jerome kept this vow for many years. But on his settlement at 
Bethlehem he resumed his classical studies ; and in later life he 
seems to have treated the vision either as a solemn reality or an 
idle fancy, just as for the moment it suited him. 

In Syria he met with an aged hermit named Malchus, whose 
romantic history intensified his desire for the ascetic life. The 
desert which he made choice of was that of Chalcis, some fifty 
miles east of Antioch. It was peopled by monks and hermits, in 
the midst of whom Jerome took up his abode, supporting himself 
by his own labour. At first he seems to have been charmed with 
the solitude. One of his companions having gone back to Aquileia, 
Jerome wrote to him in a tone of reproach : " What art thou doing 
in thy home, effeminate soldier ! Where are the rampart and 
the fosse, and the winter spent in the tented field ! . . . desert, 
blooming with the flowers of Christ ! wilderness, where are 
shaped the stones of which the city of the Great King is built ! 
solitude, where men converse familiarly with God ! " 

But a letter written after he had left the desert tells a very 
different tale. "I sat alone, I was filled with bitterness ; my 
limbs were uncomely and rough with sack-cloth, and my squalid 
skin became as black as an Ethiop's. I spent whole days in tears 
and groans; and if ever the sleep which hung upon my eyelids 
overcame my resistance, I knocked against the ground with my 
bare bones which scarce clung together. I will not speak of my 
meat and drink, since the monks, even when sick, take nothing but 
cold water, and regard cooked food as a luxury. Through fear of 
hell I had condemned myself to such a dungeon, with scorpions and 
wild beasts as my companions." With all this, however, he could 
not escape from himself. Solitude served only to inflame his 
passions, and his imagination carried him back to the forbidden 
delights of Rome. " Though my face was pallid with fasting, yet 
my soul glowed with carnal desire in my cold body. My flesh had 
not waited for the destruction of the whole man, it was dead 
already, and yet the fires of the passions boiled up within me. I 
often imagined myself in the midst of girls dancing." At times, 
however, hope and peace would break through the gloom, although 
the false notion of penance as the necessary price at which the 
Divine favour is be purchased deprived him of the full and abiding 
assurance of faith. " Destitute of all help, I cast myself at the feet 
of Jesus ; I bathed them with my tears, I wiped them with my hair. 
I tried to conquer this rebellious flesh by a week of fasting. I often 
passed the night and day in crying and beating my breast, and 
ceased not until, God making Himself heard, peace came back to 


me. Then I feared to return to my cell, as if it had known my 
thoughts, and full of anger against myself I plunged alone into the 
desert. Sometimes after shedding floods of tears, with my eyes 
lifted up to heaven, I believed myself transported into the midst of 
the choirs of angels, and, filled with confidence and joy, I sang, 
'Because of the savour of thy perfumes, we will run after Thee.' " 

During the four or five years spent by Jerome in the desert, he 
studied and wrote diligently. In one of the nearest monasteries 
was living a converted Jew, of whom he learnt Hebrew, as a means, 
he said, of self-mortification. 1 He also disputed on the ecclesiastical 
politics of the see of Antioch with the neighbouring monks and 
solitaries, by whom he was persecuted as a heretic. The hatred was 
mutual. 2 

Weary of the desert, he returned to Antioch in 879. The Church 
in that city was split up into three parties, each of which had its own 
bishop, of whom Jerome says : " I know nothing of Vitalis ; I reject 
Meletius ; I do not acknowledge Paulinus." Nevertheless, he ac- 
cepted ordination as a priest at Paulinus' hands, but on the condition 
that he should not be required to leave his monastic life, or to per- 
form any functions of the priestly office. 

In the year 380 Jerome went to Constantinople, where, as has 
been related, he placed himself under the instruction of Gregory 
Nazianzen. He remained in the Eastern metropolis during the 
council of 381, and must have been a spectator of Gregory's fall ; 
but to these events he makes no allusion. Thence he removed to 
Rome, which at this time he calls " The light of the world, the salt of 
the earth, the only place where the Gospel remains uncorrupted" (I). 
Here his reputation as a scholar became established. Two main 
objects henceforth shared his affections, scriptural study, and the 
promotion of the ascetic life. The former drew him into his most 
celebrated work, a new translation into Latin of the Old and New 
Testaments from the original languages, of which we shall speak 
presently. Of asceticism, which was introduced into Eome nearly 
forty years before, by Athanasius and the Egyptian monks, Jerome 
was now the foremost champion. 

In Rome he became the guest of Marcella, a widow of illustrious 
birth and great wealth, who had consecrated her ancestral palace 
on Mount Aventine to the service of religion. His companion, our 

1 He complains that its grating sound destroyed the elegance of the Latin 

2 The monks took away his paper, so that he was obliged to write on an old 
rag. His companions said: "We had rather live with wild beasts than with 
such Christians as these." 


old acquaintance Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, 1 was entertained by 
Paula, another Roman matron, equally noble and wealthy. These 
ladies were the centre of a society of religious women, which was 
being formed when Jerome was a student in Eome. Some of them 
he knew by person, all were acquainted with him through his 
letters, and he soon became " the soul of this patrician circle. He 
answered their questions of conscience ; he incited them to celibate 
life, lavish beneficence, and enthusiastic asceticism ; and flattered 
their spiritual vanity by extravagant praises. He was their oracle , 
biographer, admirer, and eulogist." But he was not a safe guide. 
" The letters which he wrote to these ladies," observes Maitland, 
" are a fearful monument of the social effects of the monastic 
system. Amidst elaborate and far from spiritual interpretations of 
Solomon's Song amidst fulsome eulogies of the nuns and disser- 
tations upon their peculiar relationship to the Bridegroom the 
religion and the Christ of the New Testament seem missing. The 
Lord of life is departed, the grave-clothes alone remain to show the 
place where He lay." 

Marcella was as intellectual as she was pious. " All the while I 
was in Rome," writes Jerome, " she never saw me without putting 
some question on history or theology ; nor was she ever satisfied 
by authority only, without examination ; and often my place was 
changed from teacher to learner." " Paula was descended on one 
side from the Scipios and the Gracchi, on the other from the half 
fabulous kings of Sparta and MycenaB. Left a widow at thirty-five 
by the death of her Greek husband Toxotius, she carried mourning 
in her heart more than on her garments, and for a time her grief 
was so violent that her life was in danger. She had four daughters 
Blesilla, Paulina, Julia-Eustochium, and Rufina. To exalted and 
refined sentiments, Paula joined an excessive delicacy of body and 
softness of habitude. Half a Greek, brought up in an opulence 
which had no equal in the "West, she lived an Asiatic life, nearly 
always reclining, and when she walked she was supported, or 
rather carried, on the arms of her eunuchs. Nevertheless, she 
possessed an invincible strength of mind in resisting tyranny and 
wrong. Her understanding was solid and well cultivated; she 
spoke Greek as a family language, and knew Hebrew well enough 
to read and sing the Psalms of David in the original. 

" Paula's daughter Eustochium, then barely sixteen years of 
age, was a pattern of calm, reflective will, and of firmness, even 
stubbornness in her resolutions ; her education had fully developed 
the innate germ of Christian stoicism in her heart. Entrusted in 

See ante, p. 85. 


infancy by her mother to the care of Marcella, she had breathed a 
serene and peaceful atmosphere, not always to be found in her own 
home. She early announced her intention not to marry, but to 
assume the virgin's veil. It was the first example of such a reso- 
lution given by a girl of her rank, and all the world believed she 
would change her mind when she became of age. But when the 
time arrived, and Eustochium prepared to take the vow, a cry of 
surprise and exasperation arose ; her friends exerted themselves by 
alternate threats and caresses to turn her from her purpose, but in 
vain. Her father's sister Prastextata was a zealous pagan, and 
with her husband saw in their niece's determination a disgrace to 
their name and a sacrilege against their gods. Finding all their 
warnings and entreaties fruitless, they tried to entrap her on the 
side of feminine coquetry. They invited her to their house. As 
soon as she entered her aunt's apartment, some women, who had 
been engaged for the purpose, stripped off her woollen garments, 
and letting down her long hair, braided it and frizzled it in the 
newest fashion, painted her eyes, lips, and neck, clothed her in a 
magnificent silk robe, and covered her with jewels. Eustochium 
quietly submitted to the metamorphose, listened with her habitual 
serenity to all the blandishments which were lavished upon her ; 
and then, when the hour came to return to Marcella, put on again 
her old serge dress and went her way." 

" Less difference existed between Paula and her eldest daughter 
Blesilla. Both were weak in body, and subject to alternate mental 
depression and exaltation ; but the latter wasted her energy in vain 
agitations and pleasures. A widow after seven months of married 
life chequered with cares, although scarcely twenty years of age, 
she rejected all proposals for a second union. This resolution was 
not like her sister's, prompted by love for the ascetic life ; she 
chose rather thenceforth to live for herself, for the daily round of 
pleasure, and the charms of the toilet ; she might almost be said 
to have passed her life before the mirror. In this condition she was 
attacked by fever, but recovered when at the very point of death. 
She believed her cure to be miraculous, and renouncing the world, 
assumed the habit of a church widow. Her pagan friends were 
scandalized ; Jerome seized the pen in her defence : She stank 
somewhat of negligence, and was buried in the grave-clothes of 
riches, and lay in the sepulchre of this world, but Jesus groaned in 
spirit, and cried, " Blesilla, come forth," and she arose and came 
forth, and now sits at the table with Christ.' " His letter provoked 
answers from Helvidius, a lawyer, and the monk Jovinian. Of his 
controversy with the latter we shall speak in a future chapter. 


Jerome's advocacy of the ascetic life was as violent as it was 
Wind. "I love to praise marriage, because it supplies us with 
virgins; of these thorns we gather roses." "Although your little 
nephew should hang about your neck ; although your mother, with 
hair dishevelled and garments rent, should show you the breasts at 
which she nourished you ; although your father should lie on the 
threshold ; trample on your father and set out ! Fly with dry 
eyes to the banner of the cross ! The only kind of piety is to be 
cruel in this matter." " Peter," he has the audacity to say, " was 
only an apostle ; but John, because he was a virgin, was apostle, 
evangelist, and prophet. John the single, expounds what the 
married could not : ' In the beginning was the Word,' etc. To him, 
a virgin, was committed the charge of the virgin-mother by his 
virgin Lord ; and for the same cause was he more beloved of the 
Lord, and reclined on His bosom." 1 

When Eustochium took the veil, Jerome addressed a letter to her, 
which was in effect an elaborate eulogy of virginity. In his defence 
of Blesilla he had lashed the manners of the high pagan society ; his 
letter to Eustochium contained " a scathing satire on the vices of the 
Christians." "How many virgins daily fall! 'Why,' say they, 
' should I abstain from food which God created to be used ? ' And 
when they have flooded themselves with wine, they add sacrilege to 
drunkenness, and say, ' Be it far from me that I should refrain from 
partaking of the blood of Christ ! ' And when they see any one pale 
and sad, they call her a wretch and a Manichaean." The clergy 
were not spared. " All their anxiety is about their dress, whether 
they are well perfumed, whether their shoes of soft leather fit with- 
out a wrinkle. Their hair is curled with the tongs, their fingers 
glitter with rings, and they walk on tiptoe lest the wet road should 
soil the soles of their shoes. You would take them for bridegrooms, 
rather than for clerics ; their whole thought and life is to know the 
names and houses and doings of the rich ladies." 

Blesilla' s health gave way, and now her disorder terminated in 
death. The world insisted that Jerome and her mother had killed 
her with austerities. Her relations gave her a pompous funeral ; and 
a vast crowd collected to see the procession pass along the Appian 
Way to the family mausoleum. Paula, who followed the bier, was 
overcome with grief, and fainted. This incident produced a strong 
sensation. " See this mother," cried the spectators, " who weeps 

1 Although Jerome speaks of this letter as written when he was a young 
man, he praises Fabiola (see below) for having learnt it by heart, and acted 
on it. 


for the daughter she has killed with fasting. Let us drive the 
cursed race of monks out of the city ; let us stone them ; let us 
throw them into the Tiber." 

A month after these occurrences bishop Damasus died. Jerome, 
now become the first ecclesiastic in Eome and the acknowledged 
leader of the most influential circle, aspired to the vacant chair ; 
but he was obnoxious to many of the clergy, and his temper entirely 
unfitted him for so responsible an office. His rival, Siricius, 1 was 
elected. This disappointment was aggravated by a calumnious story 
regarding his relations with Paula, which took such hold of the 
public mind that he was hooted in the streets. 

Jerome now began to suspect that he had been mistaken in 
coming to Eome, and that his true vocation after all was the 
desert. He therefore determined to shake off the dust of the great 
city, and return to a solitary life. On the eve of his departure he 
wrote to one of his friends : " In haste, dear Lady Acella, whilst 
the vessel is spreading her sails, I write these lines between my sobs 
and my tears, giving thanks to God that I am found worthy of the 
hatred of the world. Pray for me that, leaving Babylon, I may 
arrive at Jerusalem ; that, escaping the dominion of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, Ezra may lead me back to my country. Fool that I was, to 
wish to sing the Lord's songs in a strange land, to abandon Mount 
Sinai, and ask help from Egypt ! " Paula resolved to be Jerome's 
companion. With Eustochium and a band of maidens taken from 
all classes, she set sail for Antioch, a.d. 385. At Cyprus they made 
a stay of ten days, receiving from Epiphanius the same hospitality 
which Paula had shown Jerome in Eome. Jerome, with his brother 
and a friend, travelling by another route, reached Antioch before 
them. On the ladies' arrival the two parties formed a caravan, the 
ladies riding on asses, with their luggage on pack-mules. They 
arrived in Jerusalem early in 386. 

Paula was profoundly affected as she approached the scene of the 
Saviour's passion. " The whole city," says Jerome, " was witness 
of her tears and groans. In the church of the Sepulchre she threw 
herself on the stone with which the tomb was supposed to have 
been closed, and embraced it so vehemently that we could scarcely 
disengage her. But when she entered the sepulchral chamber, 
when her knees felt the ground which the limbs of the Saviour had 
touched, and her hands pressed the stone couch on which His divine 
body had lain, she fainted away. Eegaining consciousness, she 
covered those lifeless relics with kisses, clinging to them with her 

1 As fierce an advocate of celibacy as Jerome himself. 


lips, as one parched with thirst at a long sought spring, as though 
she purposed to dissolve the rock by her tears and kisses." Such a 
demonstration on the part of this noble Boman lady may seem 
strange to us, and the outcome of a morbid excitement, but we shall 
do well to consider whether our love to the same Saviour equals 

The pilgrims made the round of the Holy Places, from Mamre 
and the Dead Sea southward, to Nazareth and the Lake of Galilee 
in the north; after which they went down into Egypt. "At the 
monasteries of Nitria they were received with great honour. They 
heard the strange tales of the monks, assisted at all their services, 
ate their hard fare, lay in their hard cubicles, and were indeed 
almost persuaded to take up their abode in the Egyptian desert. 
But the superior attractions of Palestine prevailed, and returning 
thither the whole company settled at Bethlehem in the autumn of 
the same year. There Jerome spent the remaining thirty-four 
years of his life, pursuing unremittingly the two great objects to 
which he had devoted himself." 

The first work of the pilgrims was to build a monastery, and 
three convents over which Jerome and Paula presided. They 
erected a church also, in which the inmates of all the houses met, 
and a hospice or house of entertainment for the pilgrims, who 
came from all parts of the world to visit the holy places. " Now," 
cried Paula, " if Joseph and Mary should again come to Bethlehem, 
they would have a place to lodge in." Jerome took possession of a 
cave or grotto next to that "of the Nativity," 1 where he surrounded 
himself with his books, papers, amanuenses and other appliances of 
study : he called it his paradise. " I find myself," he wrote to 
Augustine, "well hidden in this hole, to weep for my sins whilst 

1 Jerome's grotto is still a principal object of curiosity at Bethlehem. The 
genuineness of the cave which now bears his name is a question which depends 
on that of " The Grotto of the Nativity," both being rock-hewn and situated 
underneath the present church of St. Mary. That the stable where our Saviour 
was born was a grotto was an article of early belief, and it was in this belief that 
Jerome took up his abode there. That he did live in one or other of the several 
rock-hewn chambers here existing (and which have since undergone much 
alteration) may be considered as certain, but whether in that which is now 
called the Chapel of St. Jerome, is much less so. The earliest mention of this 
chapel is in 1449. It is entirely hewn out of the rock except on the north side, 
where a window looks towards the cloisters of the church. There is a painting 
in the chapel representing Jerome with a Bible in his hand. The Emperor 
Constantine, in 330, erected a basilica over the Grotto of the Nativity, and it is 
pretty generally agreed that the present church is substantially identical with 
that basilica. 


waiting for the Day of Judgment." As soon as he was settled he 
opened a free school for the inhabitants of Bethlehem, to whom he 
taught Greek and Latin. Thus carried hack to the books he had 
so passionately loved in his youth, he forgot his dream, and eagerly 
drank again at the forbidden fountain. Virgil, the lyric and comic 
poets, Cicero, Plato, Homer, became again his daily delight, and he 
never wearied of expounding them to his pupils. 

In figure and visage Jerome was spare, his naturally pale com- 
plexion embrowned by the Eastern sky : he wore his hair short and 
straight. His inner and outer garment were those of the hermit, 
of a dark brown colour, the same he had worn even in Borne ; and 
if we may judge by his directions to others, they were not over 
cleanly. 1 He fasted till sunset, when he supped on vegetables and 
bread ; he allowed himself flesh and wine only in sickness. 

No inconsiderable part of Jerome's time was taken up with the 
care and discipline of the monastery, and with the crowds of monks 
and pilgrims who flocked to the hospice. Yet Scriptural studies 
were bis main pursuit, and his diligence in these is almost incred- 
ible. Sulpicius Severus, who visited Bethelehem, says: "The 
presbyter Jerome who rules the Church there is so well versed in 
Latin, Greek, and even Hebrew learning, that no man can stand 
before him. He devotes himself wholly to books and study, resting 
neither night nor day. I stayed with him six months, and when I 
departed, his household accompanied me along the road, and I 
returned with a light heart to Alexandria." Jerome wrote, or 
rather dictated, with great rapidity. The translation of the three 
books of Solomon was the work of three days, when he had just re- 
covered from a severe illness ; and he rendered the book of Tobit 
from the Cbaldee in a single day. When confined to his couch 
with sickness he would take down from his shelves one volume after 
another, and dictate to an amanuensis. 2 

Of the manner of life at Bethlehem we have a picture from the 

1 " Cleanliness of body," so he wrote to some of his lady friends, " is the filth 
of the soul. A mean sombre garment is the index of a mind at peace." "No 
one of the Roman matrons," he says elsewhere, "was ever able to command my 
homage, except she mourned and fasted and appeared in squalid clothing."" 
Sometimes, however, he expresses himself more reasonably : " Shun equally 
sordid and showy garments. Foppery and filth are alike to be avoided ; the one 
as redolent of voluptuousness, the other of vain-glory." "Thy clothes," he 
tells Eustochium, " should not be exactly clean, yet not filthy." Chrysostom 
commended the squalid attire of his beloved Olympias. 

a Jerome's reputation was spread throughout the Christian world. One day 
six strangers presented themselves at his cell ; they were sent by a pious and 
wealthy Spaniard, who desired to possess copies of all his works. 


hands of Paula and Eustochium, coloured by their own fervid 
feelings and imagination. It is in a letter to Marcella at Rome. 
"It would take too long to recount who of the bishops, the martyrs, 
the doctors of the Church, have visited Jerusalem, esteeming them- 
selves imperfect in religion and knowledge until they had received 
the finishing touch, and adored Christ in those places where first 
the Gospel shone forth from the cross. . . . We do not say this 
because we deny that the kingdom of God is within us,' and that there 
are holy men in other quarters ; but they who are foremost in all 
the world are gathered together here. . . . The Gaul, and even 
the Briton, severed from the rest of the world, whosoever among 
them has made any progress in religion, hastens hither, eager to see 
for himself the places mentioned in the Holy Scriptures ; not to 
speak of the Armenians and Persians, the people of Arabia and 
Ethiopia, Egypt teeming with monks, Pontus, Cappadocia and 
Mesopotamia. . . . There are almost as many choirs of choristers 
as there are different nations. There are no distinctions amongst 
them ; the only strife is who can be most humble. ... In what 
words," they continue, " can we place before thee the cave of the 
Saviour and the manger in which He uttered his first cry ? Here 
one does not see the broad porticoes, the gilded ceilings, the palace 
halls which wealth erects, that man's worthless little body may 
walk about more sumptuously. See, in this little hole of earth the 
maker of the Heavens was born ; here He was wrapped in swaddling 
clothes ; here visited by the shepherds ; here pointed out by the 
star ; here adored by the Magi. ... In this little city of Christ 
all is rustic. The silence is only broken by psalms. Wherever one 
turns, the ploughman holding the plough sings alleluias ; the 
toiling reaper cheers his labour with psalms ; the vine-dresser, 
pruning the vine with his hook, sings something of David. These 
are the ballads of this country ; these the love-songs ; this the 
shepherd's pipe ; these its rustic sports." Jerome added a postscript 
to their letter : " Here bread and herbs, the produce of our own 
hands, with milk, afford us plain but wholesome food. Living 
thus, sleep does not overtake us in prayer, satiety does not interfere 
with study. In summer the trees afford us shade ; in autumn the 
air is cool, and the fallen leaves afford us a quiet resting place ; in 
spring the fields are clothed with flowers, and we sing our psalms 
the sweeter amid the singing of the birds ; and when the winter's 
cold and snow come we have no lack of wood, and I watch, or sleep 
warm enough." 

The repose of the community at Bethlehem was, in the year 395, 
rudely interrupted by a threatened invasion of the Huns, who had 


overrun Syria, laid siege to Antioch, and were directing their 
course towards Palestine. The monasteries were broken up. 
Jerome and Paula hurried down to the sea of Joppa, where they 
erected a temporary camp for the protection of the sisterhood, and 
hired ships to carry them to a place of safety. At this juncture, 
news was brought that the Huns had changed their course, and 
instead of crossing Lebanon had turned to the north and west. 

About this time Fabiola, one of the group of noble ladies who 
remained in Eome, was on a visit at the convent. She had come 
to consult Jerome on a case of conscience. Ill-treated by her hus- 
band, she had sought relief in divorce, and to escape the tempta- 
tions of her unprotected state she had married again. Could she, 
without performing penance, be in communion with the Church, 
her first husband being still alive ? She returned to Rome without 
having conferred with Jerome ; but the case being made known to 
him by a priest of her company, he sent his judgment in writing. 
In regard to the plea that she married a second time from necessity, 
he says : " We all favour our own vices, and what we have done of 
our own will we attribute to the necessity of nature." On the 
question of her second marriage while her husband was living, he 
quotes the Apostle's sentence : '"The woman is bound by the law 
to her husband so long as he liveth, but if, while her husband 
liveth, she is married to another man, she shall be called an adul- 
teress.' Therefore, if this sister wishes to receive Christ's body 
and not to be called an adulteress, let her do penance." Fabiola 
accepted the conditions, and " Rome beheld a daughter of the 
ancient and illustrious house of the Fabii kneeling amongst the 
penitents on the steps of the Lateran church in mourning habit, 
with dishevelled hair, and sprinkled with ashes." 

During his residence at Bethlehem, Jerome was involved in 
several long and bitter controversies. The earliest of these was 
his contest with his old friend Rufinus respecting the doctrines of 
Origen. Like Basil and Gregory, Jerome and Rufinus had early 
been captivated by the philosophy of that profound thinker. But 
as time went on the former became convinced that some of Origen' s 
dogmas could not be defended, and that his own reputation for 
orthodoxy was in danger. So that when the question again 
agitated the Churches of Palestine, a.d. 895, Jerome hastened to 
repudiate the charge of being one of Origen's disciples. This pro- 
duced an acrimonious correspondence between himself and Rufinus, 
and although after a while they professed to be reconciled, and took 
each other's hands over the Saviour's tomb in the church of the 
Resurrection, yet on Rufinus' removal to Rome in 397, the quarrel 


broke out afresh. For several years an exchange of controversial, 
or more properly speaking, abusive tracts took place between the 
two angry disputants. Augustine was deeply pained to witness 
such strife between men of advanced age, of reputation for learning 
and piety, and who had once been familiar friends and fellow- 
students of Scripture. "I am pierced through," he writes to 
Jerome, " by darts of keenest sorrow when I think how between 
Eufinus and thee, to whom God has granted to feast together on 
the honey of the Holy Scriptures, the blight of such exceeding 
bitterness has fallen. This, too, at a time when you were living 
together in that very land which the feet of our Lord trod when 
He said, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.' If I 
could anywhere meet you both together (which, alas ! I cannot hope 
to do), so strong is my agitation, grief and fear, that I think I 
would cast myself at your feet, and there weeping till I could weep 
no more, would, with all the eloquence of love, appeal first to each 
of you for his own sake, then to both for each other's sake, and for 
the sake especially of the weak, for whom Christ died, imploring 
you not to scatter abroad these hard words against each other, 
which if at any time you were reconciled you could not recall, and 
which you could not then venture to read, lest strife should be 
kindled anew." Sad to say, this pathetic pleading was ineffectual; 
even Eufinus' death did not disarm Jerome. 1 

With Augustine himself, somewhat his junior in age, Jerome had 
a curious correspondence, which only escaped embitterment owing 
to the patience displayed by the former. Jerome, in his com- 
mentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, had put forward the mon- 
strous hypothesis that the dispute between the apostles Peter and 
Paul, there described, was merely feigned. Peter, he asserted, only 
pretended to separate himself from the Gentiles the more forcibly 
to bring out the incongruity of a Christian continuing to keep the 
Mosaic law. This appeared to Augustine as imputing to the 
apostle an acted lie, and he accordingly wrote to Jerome, a.d. 394,* 
showing what evil consequences must ensue if it could possibly be 
supposed that any teaching of the apostles was illusory. He asks, 
with a sly hit at Jerome's extravagant notions on celibacy, if we are 
to consider that the passages in which Paul eulogises marriage are 
fictitious. Unfortunately the presbyter to whom Augustine com- 

1 "The scorpion," wrote Jerome, "is buried under the soil of Sicily, with 
Enceladus and Porphyrion ; the many-headed hydra has ceased to hiss against 
us." Of Jerome's controversies with Jovinian and Vigilantius, we shall speak 
when we come to the history of those reformers. 2 Or 395. 


mitted his letter, together with some of his own writings for 
Jerome's perusal, died before he had set out on his errand, but not 
before he had shown the letter to several persons, and copies had 
been taken. A second letter, which Augustine wrote three years 
later, when he discovered that the first had never been received, 
also miscarried : the messenger to whom it was committed never 
started, alleging that he was afraid of the sea. But of this letter, 
too, copies were taken, and a deacon, who had met with one on an 
island of the Adriatic, bound up with other writings of Augustine, 
either brought a copy, or described its contents to Jerome. Soon 
afterwards, some pilgrims returning from the Holy Land, informed 
Augustine that it was the talk of the monasteries of Bethlehem 
how he had attacked Jerome in a letter which he had not sent to 
him. Augustine hastened to exculpate himself, and to point out 
that what he had written was never intended for publication. He 
also begged Jerome to use an equal freedom in criticism, and con- 
cluded with the earnest desire that he could have personal inter- 
course with his correspondent. " In Jerome's reply, friendship 
struggles with suspicion and resentment." He professes to know 
little of Augustine's works, concerning which, nevertheless, he 
might have something to say in the way of criticism, and insinuates 
that Augustine was seeking to increase his own reputation at his 
expense. Augustine's rejoinder opens with language of profound 
respect, and after explaining how his first letter had miscarried, he 
enters again on questions of Biblical interpretation. He commends 
Jerome's version of the New Testament, but, with the mistaken 
reverence of the times for the Septuagint, entreats him not to con- 
tinue the translation he had begun of the Old Testament from the 
original Hebrew. Jerome again complains that he had not received 
Augustine's original letter. "Send me," he says, "your letter 
signed by yourself, or else cease from attacking me, and let me beg 
you, if you write to me again, to take care that I am the first whom 
your letter reaches." Augustine now (some ten years after his first 
letter was written) sent to Jerome authentic copies of both his 
letters, at the same time begging that the matter might not, 
through the mishaps which had occurred, grow into a feud like 
that between Jerome and Rufinus. On the receipt of this packet 
Jerome returned an immediate and full reply. He touched on all 
the points raised, appealing, on the question of Peter's conduct at 
Antioch, to Origen and other Eastern expositors of Scripture to 
bear him out. 1 It would seem, however, that Jerome was at last 

1 The Eastern Churches continued to maintain Jerome's interpretation of 
Peter's conduct ; the Western followed Augustine. 


convinced, for Augustine, writing at a later date, cites a passage 
from him, in which he admits that no bishops are immaculate, 
since Paul found something to blame even in Peter. The corre- 
spondence was carried on some time longer with increasing good- 
will on both sides. 1 

In 403 Paula died, at the age of 56. Her health had been 
undermined by years of excessive austerities. " She was," says 
Jerome, " always mourning and fasting ; and had become almost 
blind with weeping." As she was departing she murmured in 
Hebrew some verses in Psalms xxvi. and lxxxiv., commencing, 
* Lord, I have loved the beautiful order of thy house and the 
place of the habitation of thy glory." Then applying her finger 
to her mouth, she made the sign of the cross upon her lips. 
" There were present at her death the bishops of Jerusalem and 
other cities, and an innumerable company of priests and deacons^, 
virgins and monks. There was no doleful cry, but a universal 
chant of the Psalms. Her body was carried to the tomb by the 
hands of bishops, and laid in the midst of the church of the 
Nativity. The cities of Palestine came to her funeral ; the widows 
and the poor, after the example of Dorcas, showing the clothes 
that she had given them. . . . During the whole week the Psalms 
were sung in order in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Syriac." . . . 
"If," writes Jerome, "all my being should become tongue and 
voice, I should still be unable worthily to declare her virtues. 
Noble by birth, she was yet more noble by her sanctity; once 
powerful by her wealth, she became still more powerful by her 
poverty in Christ ; the descendant of the Gracchi and the Scipios, 
she preferred Bethlehem to Eome, and a mud roof to the gilded 
ceiling of a palace. Never," he adds, " from the death of her 
husband to the day of her own going to sleep, did she eat with any 
man however holy, not even if he were a bishop. She never 
entered the bath unless she was sick ; even in a dangerous fever 

1 In this correspondence, as in all the letters of the time which have come 
down to us, we are struck with the adulatory titles made use of. We have seen 
the commencement of this weakness in Cyprian's days. See Early Church 
History, p. 177, note. As the honour paid to the bishops became more pro- 
found, the style of address became more fulsome. Augustine salutes Jerome- 
as "My lord most beloved and longed for," " My venerable lord Jerome " ; and 
addresses him and others as "Your charity, your holiness." Jerome in reply 
styles Augustine " My lord truly holy and most blessed father (papa)," and 
calls him " Your excellency," "Your grace." At the Council of Ephesus, a.d. 
431, Cyril is styled " Most saintly, most sacred, most devoted to God, our father 
and bishop." The bishops were saluted with bowing the head, kissing the 
hand, and even kissing the feet. 


she used no soft bed, but rested on the hard ground with a scanty 
covering of hair-cloth, if indeed that is to be called rest, which 
joined days and nights together by almost ceaseless prayers. 
. . . Farewell," he exclaims, " Paula, and help by thy prayers 
the old age of him who bears thee a religious reverence. Thy 
faith and works have joined thee to Christ, and being now present 
with Him thou wilt more easily obtain what thou desirest. I 
have raised to thee a monument more durable than brass, which 
time shall never destroy. But," he adds, " we do not weep that we 
have lost her ; we thank God that we once possessed her. What 
do I say ? We possess her still, for the elect who ascend to God 
still remain in the family of those who love them." 

" The picture of Paula's death," writes Joseph Bevan Braith- 
waite, " gains nothing in our eyes from the ascetic colouring spread 
over it. Yet we may be instructed as we trace in her self-denying 
faith, her care for the poor, her patience in tribulation, her child- 
like trust in God, the genuine marks of the followers of Jesus. We 
would especially notice her love for the Scriptures. She had stored 
them in her memory. The facts of the Bible were to her the 
foundation of truth ; and she still sought after an insight into the 
spiritual meaning for the edification of her soul. Much as we 
must deplore the evils of monasticism, we cannot mark the conduct 
of these devoted women in laying aside the wealth and honours of 
earth for what they believed to be the service of Christ, without, in 
some measure at least, entering into the feelings of Jerome as he 
watched by the couch of the dying Paula, and listened to the 
descendant of so many illustrious heathens testifying of her longing 
to depart and to be with Christ ; and breathing forth her spirit in 
language more ancient than the earliest triumphs of Rome, but 
which is for ever new in the experience of the children of God : 
How amiable are thy tabernacles, Lord of Hosts ! my soul 
longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord.'" 

It was now that the nations of the north of Europe Goths, 
Vandals, Sueves, and Alans having broken down the military 
barriers of the Empire, poured their hordes over her fairest pro- 
vinces. In 405 the Isaurians laid waste the north of Palestine ; the 
monasteries of Bethlehem were beset with fugitives, and Jerome 
and his friends were brought into great straits for the means of 
living. But another and a sorer calamity was at hand. Already 
the Goths were ravaging the northern provinces of Italy ; and in 
410 Borne was taken by Alaric. Many of the inhabitants were 
massacred ; a far greater number were suddenly reduced to the 
miserable condition of captives and exiles. The city was given up 


to pillage ; the booty was immense. " The acquisition of richer 
served only to stimulate the avarice of the rapacious barbarians, 
who proceeded by threats, by blows, and by torture, to force from 
their prisoners the confession of hidden treasure. The noble Mar- 
cella, the venerable head of the religious sisterhood in the city, was 
verging upon extreme old age. The blood-stained Gothic soldiers 
who rushed into her house expecting large spoils from so stately a 
palace, eagerly demanded that she should surrender the treasures 
which they were persuaded she had buried. She showed her mean 
and threadbare garments, and told them how it came to pass that 
she, a Eoman matron, was destitute of wealth. The words ' volun- 
tary poverty' fell on unbelieving ears. They beat her with clubs ; 
they scourged her ; she bore the strokes with unflinching courage, 
but fell at their feet and implored them not to separate her from 
the youthful Principia, her adopted daughter, dreading the effect 
of these horrors on the maiden, if called to bear them alone. At 
length their hard hearts softened towards her. They accepted her 
statement as to her poverty, and escorted her and Principia to the- 
basilica of St. Paul. 1 Arrived there she broke forth into a song of 
thanksgiving, ' that God had at least kept her friend for her un- 
harmed, that she had not been made poor by the ruin of the city, 
but that it had found her poor already, that she would not feel the 
hunger of the body, even though the daily bread might fail, because 
she was filled with all the fulness of Christ.' But the shock of the 
cruelties she had endured was too great for her aged frame, and 
after a few days she expired, the hands of her adopted daughter 
closing her eyes, and her kisses accompanying the last sigh." 

Many of the fugitives took refuge in Africa and Syria, and some 
even found their way to Bethlehem. " Jerome describes himself as- 
struck dumb with amazement at the capture of the city that had 
conquered the world ; and as the intelligence followed in quick 
succession, of the desolation of the provinces, and of the ruin which 
foreshadowed the breaking up of the Empire in the West, he often 
sought relief in the words of his own translation of Psalm cxx. 5, 
Woe is me that my pilgrimage is lengthened out!'" . . . . "It 
was," he says again, "as though the end of the world was come. 
Who would have believed that obscure Bethlehem would see begging 
at its gates nobles lately laden with wealth ? The daughters of the 
queenly city wander from shore to shore ; her ladies have become 
servants ; her most illustrious personages ask bread at our gate, 

1 Alaric had given orders that the right of asylum in the churches should be 
respected, especially in the two great basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul. 


and when we cannot give bread to them all, we give them at least 
our tears. In vain I try to snatch myself from the sight of such 
sufferings by resuming my unfinished work ; I am incapable of 
study ; I feel that this is the time for translating the precepts of 
Scripture, not into words, but deeds, and not for saying holy things, 
but doing them." 1 

We have spoken of the Vulgate, the celebrated translation of the 
Bible into Latin from the original languages. It arose out of 
Jerome's connection with the Eoman bishop Damasus. Whilst he 
resided in Rome, a council was held in the city, to which he was 
appointed secretary, and when it was dissolved the bishop retained 
his services for himself in the same capacity. During their inter- 
course on matters of Scripture interpretation, Damasus urged 
Jerome to undertake a thorough revision of the Latin Gospels. 
Jerome recognised the need of such a work. "Mistakes," he says, 
" have been introduced by false transcription, by clumsy corrections, 
and by careless interpolations, so that there are almost as many 
forms of text as copies." This revision was accomplished whilst he 
was in Rome ; and after he removed to Bethlehem, at the urgent 
request of Paula and Eustochium, he extended his labours to the 
Old Testament. 2 He had, as has been said, already commenced 
the study of Hebrew; 8 and now he engaged as his teachers, at much 
difficulty and expense, three Rabbis, one of whom was from Lydda, 
and another from Tiberias.* Great preparation was needed for the 
work. He consulted Biblical students ; he searched every library 
in Palestine and Egypt, especially those of Alexandria and Cassarea ; 
he made use of the Hexapla of Origen ; by the help of linguists he 

1 " The fall of Rome," says Thierry, "turned men's brains as with a vertigo 
and delirium. There was no longer any government, pity, or justice, and for 
many men no longer a God. ' The world crumbles away, and our head knows 
not how to bow down,' cried Jerome in terror. 'That which is born must 
perish ; that which has grown must wither. There is no created work which 
rust or age does not consume : but Eome ! Who could have believed that, 
raised by her victories above the universe, she would one day fall, and become 
for her people at once a mother and a tomb?' " 

2 Eustochium, as well as Paula, understood Hebrew. They used to go to 
Jerome's cave at certain hours to read the Hebrew Bible with him ; and from 
the conversations which arose on these occasions many a passage in his version 
of the Vulgate was settled. 

s Jerome's knowledge of Hebrew was much greater than that of Origen, 
Epiphanius, or Ephrem, the only other Fathers who understood it at all. 

4 It is said of the Jew of Lydda that his thirst for gold was equal to his love 
of knowledge. To read Daniel and Tobit, Jerome was obliged to change his 
instructor for one who understood Chaldee : the Eabbi rendered the text into 
Hebrew, which Jerome dictated in Latin for his scribes to write down. 


made himself acquainted with the Ethiopic and Syriac versions ; 
and he availed himself of the traditional knowledge of his Jewish 
instructors on orthography, vowel sounds and interpretations, as 
well as on Biblical topography. On the last point he was not 
satisfied with information at second-hand, but made a tour of 
Palestine, identifying, as well as he was able, the sites of the cities 
and villages, mountains, and sacred spots of the Old and New 
Testaments. This was not all. He exercised his sound and 
penetrating judgment in replacing passages which had been 
omitted, and rejecting such as had been interpolated. Nor were 
learning and genius alone necessary for the accomplishment of this 
vast undertaking ; it required a rare intrepidity to call in question 
the authority of the Septuagint, and to restore to its proper place 
the original Hebrew. It must also be borne in mind that the task 
was undertaken and completed by one man on his own individual 
responsibility. " No scholar, for fifteen hundred years," remarks 
Westcott, "was so fitted to accomplish it." In the words of 
Milman : " Whatever it may owe to the older and fragmentary 
versions of the sacred writings, Jerome's Bible is a wonderful work, 
still more as achieved by one man, and that a Western Christian, 
even with all the advantage of study and of residence in the East. 
It almost created a new language. The inflexible Latin became 
pliant and expansive, naturalizing foreign Eastern imagery, Eastern 
modes of expression and of thought and Eastern religious notions, 
most uncongenial to its own genius and character ; and yet 
retaining much of its own peculiar strength, solidity and majesty. 
If the Northern, the Teutonic languages, coalesce with greater 
facility with the Orientalism of the Scriptures, it is the triumph of 
Jerome to have brought the more dissonant Latin into harmony 
with the Eastern tongues. The Vulgate, even more perhaps than 
the Papal power, was the foundation of Latin Christianity." 

Like all innovations, however good, the labours of Jerome were 
received at first with an outcry of alarm. He was accused of dis- 
turbing the repose of the Church, and shaking the foundations of 
the faith. But although the Vulgate was an appeal from tradition 
to truth, it came itself in course of time to represent that very 
idolatry of tradition which it had sought to overthrow. Barely 
tolerated during the life-time of its author, its intrinsic merit 
made way for it, until by the seventh century it had entirely super- 
seded the older versions. Its daily and hourly use in all the 
churches and monasteries of Europe, coupled with ignorance of 
the original languages on the part of the clergy, raised its authority, 
in time, to the place of an article of faith ; so that the Council of 


Trent, in 1546, declared : " The Vulgate edition shall be held for 
authentic in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, 
and none shall dare to refuse it." 1 

A long period of sickness preceded Jerome's death. By the help 
of a cord fixed to the ceiling of his cell, he used to raise himself 
from his couch whilst he recited his Hours? He was attended in 
his last illness by the younger Paula (grandchild of his friend 
Paula), and another of the nuns. He died 419 or 420 a.d., at the 
age of seventy-four. 

All critics agree in extolling Jerome's learning and the soundness 
of his theology. " What Jerome was ignorant of," said Augustine, 
" no mortal has ever known." The words of Erasmus are : " The 
divine Jerome is among the Latins so incontestably the first of 
theologians that we have scarcely another worthy the name. 
What a pitch of Roman eloquence in him ! How great a skill 
in languages ! What a depth of acquaintance with the history 
of all antiquity ! How retentive a memory ! How happy a union 
of all qualities ! How absolute a knowledge of mystic science 1 
Above all things, how ardent a spirit, and how admirable an 
inspiration!" "His commentaries on Scripture," says Roberts, 
" are among the best which the Fathers have bequeathed to us. 
His Letter to Demetrius is valuable for the clear and sound 
exposition it contains of Divine Grace as the gift of gratuitous 

Although his notions were at least as superstitious, and his 
prejudices more violent than those of his contemporaries, yet his 
powerful intellect often grasps the truth with singular firmness, 
and holds it up to view unsullied and luminous. The traditions of 
the Church had become by this time of equal authority with Holy 
Scripture. ** Of the dogmas which are preserved in the Church," 
writes Basil, " there are some which we have from Scripture, and 
others from the tradition of the Apostles, and both have the same 
force. What written precept have we, for instance, for signing 
believers with the cross ? or for turning to the east in our prayers ? 
The words of invocation, when the bread of the Eucharist and cup 
of Blessing are consecrated, which of the saints has left to us in 
writing ? We bless both the water of baptism, and the oil of 
unction, and the person who is baptized out of what Scripture ? 
Is it not on the authority of the silent mystical tradition ? " How- 
ever inconsistent he may have been in practice, Jerome disposes in 

1 On the invention of printing, the Vulgate was the first book of any con- 
siderable size which was issued from the press. 

* The prayers and psalms repeated at stated times were thus named. 

jebome's adverse influence on the church. 129 

a few words of all such pretensions. " Do not suffer yourselves to 
be seduced by pretended apostolical traditions. Hypocritical priests 
require men to worship their traditions and statutes as other 
nations worship idols ; but to us God has given the law and the 
testimony of the Scriptures. ... I place the Apostles apart from 
all other writers ; they always speak the truth ; others err like men. 
We ought not, like the scholars of Pythagoras, to regard the pre- 
judicated opinion of the teacher, but the weight and reason of the 
thing taught." 

But the case is far otherwise when we come to consider Jerome's 
spirit and temper, and his influence on his own and succeeding 
ages. There is too much ground for the protest of Isaac Taylor 
against the "vile legendary trash" of which Jerome's Life of the 
Hermit Paul largely consists. " It is not," he adds, " without an 
emotion profoundly painful, that one turns from the turbid, frothy, 
and infectious stream of Jerome's ascetic writings, to the pellucid 
waters of Plato, Xenophon, and Cicero, reason darkened indeed, 
but struggling toward the light, and exempt from virulence, from 
hypocrisy and from absurdity. Such a contrast powerfully im- 
presses the mind with a sense of the infinite mischief that has been 
done to mankind by men, who, when Christianity, with its simple 
grandeur and its divine purity, was fairly lodged in their hands and 
committed to their care, could do nothing but madly heap upon it, 
and often for selfish purposes, every grossness and folly which might 
turn aside its influence, and expose it to contempt. It may be a 
Christian-like and kindly office to palliate the errors, and to cloak 
the follies, and to give a reason for the false notions, of the Nicene 
divines; but when, on the other side, one thinks of the long 
centuries of woe, ignorance, and persecution, and religious de- 
bauchery, which took their character directly from the perversity 
of these doctors, it is hard to repress emotions of the liveliest 

We will conclude with the masterly analysis of Jerome's character 
in the Dictionary of Christian Biography. " He was vain and unable 
to bear rivals ; extremely sensitive as to the estimation in which he 
was held by his contemporaries, and especially by the bishops ; 
passionate and resentful, but at times becoming suddenly placable ; 
scornful and violent in controversy ; kind to the weak and the poor ; 
respectful in his dealings with women ; entirely without avarice ;. 
extraordinarily diligent in work, and nobly tenacious of the main 
objects to which he devoted his life. . . . His writings contain the 
whole spirit of the Church of the Middle Ages, its monasticism, its 
contrast of sacred things with profane, its credulity and super- 


stition, its subjection to hierarchical authority, its dread of heresy, 
its passion for pilgrimages. To the society which was thus in a 
great measure formed by him, his Bible was the greatest boon 
which could have been given. But he founded no school, and had 
no inspiring power ; there was no courage or width of view in his 
spiritual legacy which could break through the fatal circle of 
bondage to received authority which was closing round mankind." 



Op Augustine, " the tenderest, most devout, and in all respects 
most noble-minded of the Christian Fathers," more is known than 
of any other, chiefly because he has left an autobiography, the 
well-known Confessions, written when he was about forty-three years 
old. The son of a pagan citizen of Thagaste, in Numidia, he was 
born a.d. 354. His mother, Monnica, " the pattern of mothers," 
was a Christian, and to her patience and faithfulness her husband 
mainly owed his conversion, and her son his character and 

Augustine was sent first to an elementary school in his native 
town, " where," as he tells us, ''one and one are two, two and two are 
four, was a hateful singsong" to him, and when he did not learn, 
he was beaten. He calls this discipline "a great and grievous ill," 
and in his distress he used earnestly to pray to God that he might 
not be so punished. " We boys," he says, " wanted not memory 
or capacity, but we delighted only in play, and for this we were 
punished by those who were doing the same things themselves. But 
the idleness of our elders is called business, whilst boys who do the 
like are punished by those same elders." 

In due time he was promoted to a higher school in the neigh- 
bouring large town of Madaura, where the majority of the in- 
habitants were pagans, and the statues of the gods still stood 
uninjured in the forum. Here Virgil delighted him, "the wooden 
horse full of armed men, and the burning of Troy, and the spectral 
image of Creusa ; " but although Homer contained the same 
"sweetly vain fiction," the difficulty of mastering Greek em- 
bittered all the romance of the Iliad. To make the youthful 
scholar comprehend the Greek poet, harsh threats and blows were 
freely used. 

Augustine's youth. 131 

It is worthy of notice that when Augustine in after years looked 
hack upon his school days with a ripened judgment, and from a 
Christian standpoint, he condemned the classic method of instruc- 
tion, that " torrent of hell " as he calls it, hy which learning was 
poured into the boyish mind through the obscene fables of heathen- 
ism. He also brings out into strong relief the scrupulous care with 
which the scholars were trained in the niceties of grammar, whilst 
moral truth and practice were neglected ; so that, as he expresses 
it, " it was accounted a greater offence for a scholar to drop the 
aspirate and say 'ominem, instead of hominem (man), than if, in 
opposition to the divine commandments, he, a human being, should 
hate a human being." 

At the age of sixteen he returned home to his parents, and the 
next year was sent to college at Carthage to complete his education. 
During this period, notwithstanding his mother's loving counsel 
and entreaties, he fell into dissolute habits. " My mother's 
admonitions to chastity appeared to me but womanish counsels 
which I should blush to obey." ..." Blindly" (he says again) 
"I rushed on headlong; when I heard my equals pluming them- 
selves on their disgraceful deeds, I made myself out worse than I 
was that I might not be dispraised. ... A cauldron of unholy 
loves bubbled up around me ; and yet foul and dishonourable as I 
was, I craved, through an excess of vanity, to be thought elegant 
and urbane." He and his companions, habitues of the theatre and 
the circus, prided themselves on their gallantry, and practised 
shameful tricks and rough jokes in the public streets. But in the 
midst of all this dissipation he found time for study, and his 
natural genius asserted itself so strongly that he became head 
scholar in the school of rhetoric. 

In the course of his studies he lighted upon the "Hortensius" of 
Cicero, a dialogue in praise of philosophy, of which fragments only 
remain. "This book," he writes, "changed my affections, and 
turned my prayers to Thee, Lord. 1 Suddenly all my vain hopes 
became worthless, and with an incredible warmth of heart, I 
yearned for the possession of immortal philosophy, and began to 
arise that I might return to Thee. . . . One thing alone checked 
my ardour, that the name of Christ was not in the book. For this 
name had my tender heart piously drunk in, even with my mother's 
milk, and whatever was without that name, though never so erudite, 
polished and truthful, could not take complete hold of me." But 
he was not yet humble enough to receive the spiritual teaching of 

1 His Confessions are throughout addressed to God. 


the Scriptures. " They were such as the lowly can understand ; hut 
they appeared to me unworthy to he compared with the dignity of 
Cicero ; my full-blown pride shunned their simple style, nor could 
the sharpness of my wit penetrate their inner meaning." 

In this condition of mind he met with the Manichasans, 1 whose 
rationalistic system entangled him like " bird-lime," and for a long 
time held him a willing prisoner. Years afterwards, when he had 
escaped, and had come into the reality of the Gospel, he saw how 
deceitful had been the illusion which had been put upon him. "0 
truth, truth, how did the marrow of my soul pant after thee ! They 
sounded out thy name to me, but it was but a voice. As fictitious 
dishes served up to one in hunger, so instead of Thee they served 
up to me thy sun and moon, thy beauteous works, but not Thyself; 
and glowing phantasies and empty fictions ; and I fed upon them,, 
but was not nourished but famished. For I hungered and thirsted,, 
not so much after thy works, but after Thee Thyself, the Truth,, 
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning ; and far 
from Thee was I wandering, cut off even from the husks of the 
swine whom with husks I was feeding." 

Augustine returned from Carthage an avowed Manichsean, and 
not content with holding these opinions himself, he used all his- 
skill as a trained disputant to win converts to the same error. His. 
pious mother (his father was then dead) " wept for him more than 
mothers weep the bodily death of their children." She did more 
than grieve. Shrinking from, and detesting the blasphemies of his 
heresy, she began to doubt whether it was right in her to allow her 
son to live with her and to eat at the same table. From this 
perplexity she was delivered by a dream. She saw herself standing 
on a wooden rule, 2 bowed down with grief, when a shining youth 
advanced towards her, and with a smile inquired the cause of her 
sorrow. She answered that she was lamenting her son's perdition ; 
he bade her be comforted, and told her to behold and see that 
where she was, there was her son also. She looked, and saw 
Augustine standing near her on the same rule. On her relating to 
him the vision he pretended that it signified she should not despair 
of being some day what he was. " No," she replied promptly and 
decidedly, " it was not told me, where he is, thou shalt be, but 
where thou art, he shall be." He confesses that his mother's 
answer, showing that she was not deceived by his sophistry, moved 
him more than the dream itself. 

1 See a brief notice of their rise and doctrines in Early Church History, p. 226. 
2 Begula; symbolical of the rule of faith. 


About the same period his mother in her distress applied to a 
hishop, reported to be well skilled in refuting errors and teaching 
sound doctrine, entreating him that he would have some talk with 
her son. He refused, alleging that Augustine was as yet unteach- 
able, being puffed up with the novelty of the heresy he had em- 
braced, and with having already silenced many by his arguments. 
" Leave him alone for a time," he said, " only pray for him; he 
will of himself, by reading, discover his error ; for I myself, when 
a youth, was by a misguided mother betrayed to the Manichaeans, 
and not only read but wrote out almost all their books ; and yet I 
came to see, without argument or proof from any one, how that 
sect was to be shunned." But Monnica could not be satisfied; she 
besought the good bishop still more earnestly and with many tears, 
that he would see and discourse with her son. A little displeased 
at her importunity he exclaimed, " Go thy way and God bless thee, 
for it is not possible that the son of these tears should perish." 
She went away comforted, accepting his answer as a voice from 

Augustine now commenced to teach rhetoric at Carthage. His 
pupils were mostly studying for the law. " In those years I made 
sale of the art of victorious loquacity. Yet I preferred to have 
honest scholars, as they are esteemed, to whom I without artifice 
taught artifices, not to be practised against the life of the guiltless, 
although sometimes for the life of the guilty." Many heathen 
notions and practices still lingered, and amongst them that of 
soothsaying. " When I would compete for a theatrical prize," 
Augustine continues, " a soothsayer demanded how mueh I would 
give him to make me win. He was to sacrifice certain living 
creatures, and so induce the devils to favour me. I answered him: 
1 Although the garland I was to win should be made of imperishable 
gold, I would not suffer a fly to be destroyed to secure it.' But I 
.said this not out of pure love for Thee, God of my heart, for I 
knew not then how to love Thee, but because I detested and 
abominated such foul mysteries, although I myself was sacrificing 
to devils by the superstition in which I was enthralled." Accord- 
ingly he did not hesitate to consult another kind of impostors, the 
astrologers, or " mathematicians," who observed the stars, but 
offered no sacrifices and invoked no spirit in their divinations. 

At twenty, Augustine had mastered nearly all the science of the 
age. Whilst others were scarcely able to understand Aristotle 
with the aid of skilful tutors, he read him unassisted. "Whatever 
was written on rhetoric, logic, geometry, music, or arithmetic, I 
understood without an instructor, because of the quickness of 


intelligence and acuteness of observing which Thou, my God, 
gave me." 

By degrees Augustine discovered that the professors of Manichae- 
ism could not solve the questions which sprang up in his astute 
mind, and that what Manes had taught regarding the universe was 
contradicted by science. His confidence was further shaken by the 
most renowned bishop of the sect, who discerned Augustine's 
genius, requesting to become his pupil. All this time, during 
which he was wandering in the labyrinth of a false religion, 
Augustine was in bondage also to the indulgence of his unsubdued 

Amongst the pupils in his school of rhetoric was Alypius, a youth 
of great promise, but " the vortex of Carthaginian customs had 
inveigled him into the madness of the games." Although not yet 
himself converted, Augustine perceived clearly the folly of such a 
manner of life. " One day," he writes, " when I was sitting in my 
accustomed place, with my scholars before me, Alypius came in, 
saluted me, and fixed his attention on the subject I was handling- 
"Whilst I was explaining there occurred to me a simile borrowed 
from the circus, as likely to make what I wished to convey 
pleasanter and plainer, imbued at the same time with a biting gibe 
at those who were enthralled by that madness. I had no thought 
at the moment of curing Alypius of that plague. But he applied 
my words to himself, and thought I spoke them only for his sake. 
And what any other would have made a ground of offence against 
me, this worthy young man took as a reason for being offended at 
himself, and for loving me more fervently." But although 
Augustine's sharp reproof brought Alypius for the time to his 
senses, he was not in reality " cured of his plague." In Borne, not. 
long afterwards, he was one day met by a knot of acquaintances 
and fellow-students returning from dinner, who with friendly 
violence drew him towards the amphitheatre, he all the while 
resisting. " You may," he protested, " drag my body thither and 
seat me there, but you cannot force me to lend my mind or my eyes 
to the spectacle." Nevertheless they carried him in with them and 
took their places. Soon the customary excitement seized the vast 
crowd. For a while Alypius kept his eyes firmly closed, but on the 
fall of one of the combatants, there arose so mighty a cry, that,, 
overcome by curiosity, his resolution gave way, and he looked on 
the scene before him. Instantly the sight of the blood brought back 
all the old craving ; he fixed his gaze until he was intoxicated with 
the sanguinary pastime, and joined in the universal shout. " From 
all this, didst Thou," adds Augustine, " with a most powerful and 


a most merciful hand pluck him, and teach him not to trust in 
himself but in Thee." 

The schools of rhetoric at Carthage were very disorderly, and 
although that of Augustine enjoyed a high reputation, he longed for 
a more quiet chair, where discipline still held something of her 
ancient sway. He resolved to go to Eome. This resolution was a 
great grief to Monnica. Unable to part with him, she went down 
to the harbour, determined either to prevent his voyage, or to bear 
him company. To free himself from her, he pretended that he had 
a friend whom he desired to see off, and who was waiting for a 
favourable wind. " By the help of this device, I hardly persuaded 
her to remain that night in a place close to our ship, where there 
was an oratory in memory of the blessed Cyprian." During the 
night, whilst she was weeping and praying that he might not be 
permitted to leave her, the wind rose, filled the sails, and bore 
Augustine out of sight of land. His reflections in after-years on the 
events of this sad night are full of tenderness and wisdom. " I lied 
to my mother, and such a mother, and got away. Thou, God, 
mysteriously counselling and hearing the real purpose of her desire, 
granted not what she then asked, that Thou mightest make me 
what she was ever asking." When the next morning she came to 
the shore and found the ship was gone, " she was wild with grief." 

Augustine came to Kome in 383. He had been there only six 
months when the city of Milan applied to Symmachus, the pagan 
prefect, an upright and eloquent man, for a teacher of rhetoric. 
Augustine, through some Manichaean friends, made application for 
the appointment ; and Symmachus, having satisfied himself of his 
fitness, sent him to Milan at the public expense. Alypius would not 
leave him. " He clave to me," writes Augustine, "by a most strong 
tie, and went with me to Milan, both that he might not leave me, 
and that he might practise something of the law he had studied, 
more to please his parents than himself. At Eome," he continues, 
" he had thrice sat as assessor with much uncorruptness, wondered 
at by others, he wondering that they should prefer gold to 

The great attraction for Augustine at Milan was Ambrose. " To 
Milan I came, and to Ambrose the bishop, 1 thy devout servant, 
known to the whole world as among the best of men, whose eloquent 
discourse did at that time strenuously dispense unto thy people the 
flour of thy wheat, the gladness of thy oil, and the sober intoxication 
of thy wine. To him was I unknowingly led by Thee, that by him 

1 He had then occupied the see nine years. 


I might knowingly be led to Thee. He received me as a father, and 
I began to love him, not at first indeed as a teacher of the Truth, 
which I utterly despaired of finding in thy Church, but as a man 
friendly to myself. I studiously hearkened to him preaching to the 
people, but not with the intent I ought to have done, for of the 
matter I was careless and scornful, but testing his eloquence whether 
it came up to its fame. Yet all the time, little by little, I was 
unconsciously drawing nearer to him. For although I took no 
pains to learn what he spoke, but only to hear how he spoke, yet 
along with the words which I prized there entered into my mind 
also the things about which I was indifferent; for I could not 
separate them : so that whilst I opened my heart to admit how 
skilfully he spoke, by degrees there entered also the conviction how 
truly he spoke. In the end I resolved to become a catechumen in 
the Catholic Church." 

Augustine found but little opportunity of private intercourse with 
the bishop. "It would seem that Ambrose, after the fashion of hot 
countries, sat habitually in a corner of the cloister or verandah 
which surrounded the open court of the house, so that those who 
wished to speak to him could watch for an opportunity of finding 
him disengaged." " When," writes Augustine, " he was not 
occupied with the crowds of busy people to whose infirmities he 
devoted himself, he was either refreshing his body with necessary 
sustenance, or his mind with reading. Often when we had come 
and seen him thus intent, and had sat long silent, we were fain to 
depart, inferring that he was unwilling to lose the little time he thus 
secured for replenishing his mind." 

Monnica could not long remain absent from her beloved and 
erring son, but followed him to Milan. The vessel in which she 
sailed was in danger of shipwreck, and the sailors themselves were 
alarmed, but Monnica, so Augustine relates, was comforted by a 
heavenly vision and able to predict a safe termination to their 

Shortly before her arrival Augustine and Alypius were joined by 
another young man, Nebridius, "who left Carthage and his fine 
paternal estate, his house and his mother, and came to Milan for no 
other reason but that with me he might live in a most ardent search 
after truth and wisdom. " So," he continues, " were there three 
indigent persons sighing out their wants one to another, and waiting 
upon Thee that Thou mightest give them their meat in due 
season." These three, with a few others of like mind, formed the 
project of separating themselves wholly from the turmoil of the 
world. Each was to throw his possessions into the common stock ; 


and the cares of the household were to be committed to two of them 
as stewards, that the rest might devote themselves undisturbed to 
the pursuit of wisdom. But an important element had been left 
out in their calculation. "We began to ask whether the wives 
whom some of us possessed already, and others hoped to have, 
would give their consent, and all our plans which had been so 
skilfully framed broke to pieces, and were utterly wrecked and cast 
aside. So we fell again to sighs and groans, and our steps again 
followed the broad and beaten tracks of the world." 

Augustine found himself still under the shackles of his old sins. 
He had brought with him to Milan his son Adeodatus, and the 
youth's mother. Monnica was very solicitous that he should break 
off the unlawful connexion, and contract an honourable marriage. 
A maiden was even chosen for him and his consent obtained ; but 
the time of reformation was not yet come ; he fell back again into 
his former mode of life. 

He had now cast off the doctrines of the Manichseans, and had 
allied himself with the Neo-Platonists, with whom, however, he did 
not long remain. " Being," he says, "warned to return to myself, 
I entered into my inward parts, Thou leading me on ; and with the 
eye of my soul I saw above my mind the unchangeable light. Not 
this common light which all flesh may look upon, nor a greater one 
of the same kind, though much more resplendent, but very different 
from these. Neither was it above my mind as oil is above water, 
nor as heaven is above earth, but it was above me because it made 
me, and I was below it because I was made by it. He who knows 
the truth knows that light, and he who knows that light knows 
eternity. Love knows it. eternal truth, and true love and 
beloved eternity ! . . . I found not the way to enjoy Thee, until I 
embraced that Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ 
Jesus, who is over all God blessed for ever, and who called to me 
saying, ' I am the way, the truth, and the life ! ' " 

There was at Milan a good man named Simplician, 1 one who had 
been spiritually helpful to Ambrose, and who is described by him 
*' as having traversed the whole world to acquire divine knowledge, 
and given his entire life to holy reading, night and day." " Thou 
God ! " exclaims Augustine, "didst put into my mind, and it seemed 
good in my eyes, to go to this man. I went therefore and unfolded 
to him the tortuous course of my errors." Simplician related to 
him the history of Victorinus, who after worshipping idols all his 
life, became in his old age a child of Christ, and made a public 

1 He succeeded Ambrose as bishop of Milan. See ante, p. 70. 


confession of his name. As Augustine listened " I burned," he 
says, "to imitate Victorinus, and when I heard that in the time of 
the Emperor Julian a law was made forbidding Christians to teach 
grammar and rhetoric, and that this man chose rather to relinquish 
the school of words than to give up thy Word, he appeared to me 
not more courageous than happy in having thus discovered an 
opportunity of serving Thee only ; which thing I also sighed for in 
my bonds ; bonds not imposed by another, but by my own iron 
will. The enemy being master of my will had made a chain of it r 
and bound me with it. Out of a perverse will came lust ; and lust 
indulged became custom ; and custom unresisted became necessity. 
And that new will which had begun to rise in me, freely to serve 
Thee and to wish to enjoy Thee, God, the only sure delight, was 
not as yet able to overcome my former wilfulness made strong by 
long indulgence. Thus did my two wills one old, the other new ; 
one carnal, the other spiritual strive within me, and by their dis- 
cord undid my soul." 

Another hand of help was extended to him by his fellow-country- 
man Pontitianus. This man, coming to the house where Augustine 
and Alypius dwelt, saw on the table a copy of Paul's Epistles ; and 
in the conversation to which the volume gave rise he related to 
them the anecdote of the two gentlemen, who were turned from the 
pursuit of worldly honour to embrace the ascetic life by reading 
Athanasius' Life of St. Anthony. 1 The narrative sank deep into 
Augustine's soul. " Thou, Lord, whilst he was speaking didst 
turn me towards myself, taking me from behind my back where I 
had placed myself, and setting me before my face that I might see 
how foul I was, how crooked and defiled, bespotted and ulcerous. I 
beheld and loathed myself, and whither to flee from myself I found 
not. And whenever I sought to turn away my gaze from myself, 
Thou again didst set me over against myself, and thrustedst me 
before my own eyes that I might find out my own iniquity and hate 
it. . . . Pontitianus," continues Augustine, " having finished his 
story and the business he came for, went his way, and I withdrew 
into myself. With what scourges of rebuke did I not lash my soul 
to make her follow me, struggling to go after Thee ! Yet she drew 
back, she refused. All her arguments were spent and confuted ; 
there remained only a mute shrinking ; she dreaded, as if it were 
death itself, the plugging of that flow of habit whereby she was 
wasting to death. I grasped Alypius, and exclaimed, What ails 
us ? What is it ? The unlearned start up and take Heaven by 

1 See Early Church History, p. 300, note. 


force, while we with our learning, but wanting heart, behold ! 
where we wallow in flesh and blood.' Some such words I uttered,. 
and in my excitement flung myself from him, while he gazed after 
me in silent amazement." 

" There was," he goes on to relate, " a little garden belonging to 
our lodging, of which we had the use. Thither the tempest within 
my breast hurried me, where no one might check the fiery struggle 
in which I was engaged with myself, until it came to the issue 
which Thou knewest, though I did not." Alypius followed, "for 
his presence did not destroy my privacy, and how could he desert 
me so troubled ? "We sat down as far from the house as we 

The fever which consumed Augustine's soul communicated itself 
to his body ; he tore his hair ; he smote his forehead ; with close- 
knit fingers he clasped his knee. The two natures, the two wills- 
within him, the good drawing this way, the evil that way, were 
locked together in a death-3truggle for the mastery. " The very 
toys of toys and vanities of vanities, my old mistresses, held me in 
their thrall ; they shook my fleshly garment and whispered softly, 
Dost thou part with us ? From this moment shall we no more be 
with thee for ever ? What they said I did not so much as half 
hear, for they did not openly show themselves and contradict me, 
but muttering as it were behind my back, furtively plucked me as 
I was departing, to make me look back upon them. For on that 
other side toward which I had set my face and whither I still 
trembled to go, the chaste dignity of continence shone upon me 
full of cheerfulness, honestly alluring me to come and doubt nothing, 
and extending her holy hands, full of a multiplicity of good 
examples, to receive and embrace me." 

At length he could could contain himself no longer ; the storm 
which raged within him found vent in a torrent of tears. Feeling 
entire solitude to be the fittest place for weeping, he stole away 
from Alypius, and flung himself under a fig-tree, where his heart 
found relief in words. " 'Thou, Lord, how long? How long, 
Lord, wilt Thou be angry for ever ? remember not against us- 
former iniquities. How long, how long ? To-morrow, to-morrow ? 
Why not now ? Why not this hour an end to my uncleanness ? ' 
Thus I said, and wept in the most bitter contrition of my heart, 
and behold I heard the voice, as of a boy or girl, I know not which, 
coming from a neighbouring house, chanting and oft repeating, 
' Tolle, lege ; tolle lege ' ; ' Take up and read, take up and read.' 
Instantly my countenance altered ; I began to think most intently 
whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words ' r 


and I could not remember ever to have heard the like. So checking 
my tears I rose up, interpreting it to be no other than a command 
to me from Heaven, to open the book and read the first chapter I 
should light upon. . . . Eagerly, therefore, I returned to the 
place where Alypius was sitting, for there I had laid the volume of 
the Apostles. I seized, I opened, and in silence read that para- 
graph on which my eyes first fell : ' Not in rioting and drunken- 
ness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; 
but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the 
flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.' No further would I read, nor 
needed I, for instantly as the sentence ended, by a serene light as 
it were infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished 
away. Then putting my finger, or some other mark, in the place, 
I closed the book, and with a tranquil countenance made known to 
Alypius what had passed. He asked to see what I had been 
reading. I showed him ; he looked further and read, ' Him that 
is weak in the faith, receive ye,' which he applied to himself and 
was strengthened. Thence we go in to my mother. We tell 
her ; she rejoices ; we relate how it all took place ; she leaps for 
joy, and triumphs and blesses Thee, who art able to do exceeding 
abundantly above all that we can ask or think, for she saw that 
Thou hadst given her for me more than she was wont to ask in 
her pitiful and most sorrowful groanings. For Thou didst so 
convert me to Thyself, that I sought neither a wife nor any other 
of this world's hopes, standing on that rule of faith where Thou 
hadst showed me to her in a vision so many years before." 

It was only in accordance with the spirit of the age that Augus- 
tine, having now given himself to the Lord, should take the vow of 
perpetual celibacy and withdraw altogether from secular concerns. 
Throwing up his professorship, he retired to a country house at 
Cassiacum, 1 which was placed at his disposal by one of his Milanese 
friends. There he passed the seven months which intervened till 
his baptism. He was accompanied by his mother and his son, then 
not quite fifteen, Alypius and Nebridius, and six other chosen 
friends. To this select company the time spent at Cassiacum was 
the realization of the happy life of which some of them had already 
dreamed. They rose early, sometimes passed the morning in 
reading, dined frugally together, and in the afternoon assembled 
under a spreading tree in the meadow, for pleasant and profitable 
conversation. When it rained they removed to a hall of the baths 
which were attached to the villa. " Of these reunions Augustine 
was the life and soul ; it was a little school of Christian philosophy 

1 Now Caseago de Brianza, twenty miles from Milan. 


of which he was the professor. Some had their tablets always 
ready, and with the stylus noted down rapidly what was said. 
When the discussion was prolonged into the twilight, a servant 
brought a lamp that the writers might not lose any of the master's- 
words." These conversations were the germ of several of Augus- 
tine's philosophical treatises. 

After his baptism, which was performed (a.d. 387) by Ambrose 
himself, his son and Alypius being baptized at the same time, 
Augustine and Monnica proceeded to Kome, intending to return to 
Africa. But the sweet prospect of again living together in their 
native country was not to be realized : Monnica' s earthly race was 
nearly run. At Ostia she was taken with fever, which carried her 
off in nine days. Augustine bewailed her loss with the most 
poignant sorrow. 

Augustine tarried nearly a year in Kome before returning to- 
Africa. In 388 he took up his dwelling in his native town, 
Thagaste. Distributing half of his patrimony to the poor, he 
retired with a few chosen friends, of whom Alypius was one, to his 
own house, and entered upon a life of fasting, prayer, meditation,, 
and study. Like Basil and Jerome, he exerted himself for the 
establishment of monastic houses, but it was chiefly the lower 
classes and liberated slaves whom he persuaded to take the vows. 

At the end of three years, having occasion to go to Hippo, he 
was present in the church when the bishop Valerius was discoursing 
on the necessity of appointing an additional priest for the Catholic 
service. He was recognized and laid hold of, and notwithstanding 
his resistance, presented to the bishop, who ordained him on the 
spot. When he removed to Hippo 1 he took with him his brother- 
hood, and settled his monastery in the gardens adjoining the 
church. In a few years Valerius, finding his strength decline, 
associated Augustine with him in his episcopal duties, and at his 
death in 396 Augustine became bishop. He thus meditates on his 
new position. " Nothing is better than the study of Divine wisdom 
without distraction ; but to preach, to refute, to reprove, to edify, 
to take care for each individual soul, is a heavy burden and toil. 
Who would not shun it ? But the Gospel makes me afraid when I 
think of the slothful servant who buried his Lord's talent." The 
episcopal residence now became both a cloister and a school of 
theology. Many who were there trained for the priesthood rose to 
offices of rank and influence. 2 

1 The modern seaport town of Bona, in the east of Algeria, is built out of the 
ruins of the ancient Hippo, the site of which lay a mile to the south. 

8 Combining the clerical life with the monastic, Augustine became unwit- 


Augustine required his clergy to live with him as a religious com- 
munity in celibacy and poverty. There was, however, no display 
of asceticism. He himself wore the black dress of the Eastern 
coenobites, but retained his linen and shoes. "I applaud your 
courage," he said to those who went barefoot ; " do you bear with 
my weakness." The table service was of wood, earthenware and 
marble, and the spoons of silver. Hospitality was freely main- 
tained. The diet of the brotherhood was mostly vegetable ; but 
flesh and wine were provided for the visitors, of whom there was a 
continual succession. On the dining-table was carved a Latin 
distich : 

" He who slanders the absent is forbidden to sit at this board." 

If any one infringed this rule, Augustine used to tell him that 
cither the verses must be effaced, or he must leave the table. 
Another reprehensible custom in conversation was the frequent 
taking of the name of God to witness the truth of what was said. 
The penalty which the bishop imposed on his guests for this offence 
was to go without wine at dinner. 

Augustine was a powerful and very diligent preacher ; often 
preaching five days in succession, sometimes twice a day. The fire 
which burnt in his own soul kindled a corresponding flame in the 
souls of his hearers. Like all true Christian preachers, he de- 
pended for success on the help of the Holy Spirit. " The Christian 
orator," he says, "will succeed more by prayer than by gifts of 
oratory. Before he attempts to speak he will pray for himself and 
his hearers. And when the time is come, before he opens his 
mouth, he must lift up his thirsty soul to God to drink in what he 
is about to pour forth, and to be himself filled with what he is about 
to dispense. For who knows what it is expedient at any given 
moment for us to say, or to be heard saying, except God who knows 
the hearts of all ? And who can enable us to say what we ought, 
and in the way we ought, but He in whose hand are both ourselves 
and our words ? He therefore who would both know and teach, 
should learn all that is to be taught, and acquire a faculty of 
speech, suitable to his office ; but when the hour for speech arrives 
let him give heed to our Lord's words, ' Take no thought how or 
what ye should speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour 
what ye shall speak ; for it is not ye that speak but the Spirit of 
your Father that speaketh in you.' If the Holy Spirit speaks thus 
in those who for Christ's sake are delivered to the persecutors, why 

tingly to himself the founder of the Augustinian order, which 1100 years after- 
wards gave Luther to the world. 


not also in those who deliver Christ's message to those who are 
willing to learn? " 

At the same time he has a word of reproof for such as from sloth 
or a fanatical spirit despised the helps which God has provided. 
" If any one says we need not direct men how or what they should 
teach, since it is the Holy Spirit that makes them teachers, he 
might as well say we need not pray, since our Lord says, ' Your 
Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him ' ; 
or that the apostle Paul should not have given directions to Timothy 
and Titus as to how or what they should teach to others. These three 
apostolic epistles ought to be constantly before the eyes of every 
one who has attained to the position of a teacher in the Church." 1 

Augustine's practice agreed with his precepts. " One day he had 
prepared an eloquent discourse, designed to produce a strong im- 
pression on cultivated minds. Suddenly in the midst of his 
preaching he broke the thread of his argument, and turned abruptly 
to a more simple and popular subject. On his return home he 
related how he had yielded to an impulse of the Holy Spirit which 
had driven him to set aside the original plan of his sermon. 
Hardly had he spoken, when a man knocking at the door, entered, 
bathed in tears. He had been arrested by the diverted portion 
of the discourse, and now confessed himself to be won over to the 

It was early in Augustine's episcopal life that he came into con- 
flict with the Donatists. 2 This sect, confined to the North African 
province, had increased rather than diminished under the successors 
of Constantine, and its adherents were here as numerous as the 
Catholics. Hippo was a very hotbed of the schism. With the 
same faith, the same worship, and nearly the same discipline, there 

1 With all this wisdom, Augustine, like most of the Fathers, indulged in a 
symbolism often fanciful and sometimes absurd. See for example his comment 
on the healing of the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda. " The pool is the 
Jewish people shut in by the five books of Moses as by five porches. The law 
only brought forth the sick, it could not heal them. Christ, by his teaching and 
mighty acts, troubles sinners, troubles the water, and arouses it to his own death. 
To descend into the troubled waters means to believe in the Lord's death. 
That only one was healed signifies unity ; those who came afterwards were not 
healed, because he who is outside unity cannot be healed. Christ found in the 
impotent man's age the number of infirmity. The number forty is consecrated 
by a kind of perfection. Why should we wonder that he was weak and sick 

_ whose years fell short of forty by two ? Finding the man thus lacking, Christ 
gave him two precepts, ordered him to do two things, ' Take up thy bed and 
walk.' Thus filling up that which was lacking of the perfect number." 

2 For an account of the rise of the Donatists, see Early Church History, 
Part ii. c. 10. 


were two rival communities, each claiming to be the true Church. 
This was a condition of things which Augustine could not endure 
to behold. He not only yearned to bring all men to what he looked 
upon as the peculiar privileges of the Catholic Church ; he sincerely 
believed that outside her pale there is no salvation. 1 He confounded 
the authority of Christ with that of the visible Church, and claimed 
for the latter the same absolute obedience as for Christ Himself. 
From the moment therefore when he became bishop of Hippo, no 
object lay nearer to his heart, than to bring back the Donatists 
into the Catholic communion. His confidence in his own theo- 
logical principles induced him to believe that if the bishops of that 
party could only be brought calmly to investigate the questions at 
issue, they would acknowledge their error. In 397 a public dis- 
putation took place between himself and an aged Donatist bishop, 
named Fortunius, which however led to no practical result. In 
403 another effort was made. At a Council held at Carthage the 
Donatists were invited to choose delegates prepared to discuss the 
contested points with delegates of the Catholic party. The invita- 
tion would seem to have been prompted by the spirit of charity, 
but the terms in which it was couched were not conciliatory ; it 
was the language of men who believed themselves the sole posses- 
sors of the truth, addressed to men in error, and whose errors 
moreover it was their business to correct. The Donatists naturally 
rejected the overture. 

It happened several years afterwards (410) that some Donatist 
bishops who had been summoned before the higher civil authorities, 
let fall the assertion that they would be well able to prove the truth 
of their cause if they were but allowed a patient hearing. The 
Catholic bishops, or Augustine on their behalf, seized eagerly upon 
the words ; and the next year the Emperor Honorius gave orders 
for a conference to be held at Carthage between the two parties. 
The Pro-consul of Africa, Flavius Marcellinus, a man of ability, 
and friendly with Augustine, was appointed to preside. The terms 
on which the Donatists were invited to meet their opponents had 
the sound of extreme liberality. The Catholics declared themselves 
ready to surrender their bishoprics to the Donatists if these should 
be able to prove their case. But there is little merit in the pro- 
fession of great sacrifices when there is not the remotest chance of 

i why," he asks, "should any hesitate to throw themselves into the arms 
of that Church, which has always maintained herself by the succession of 
bishops in apostolic sees, by the faith of the people, the decisions of councils, 
and the authority of miracles ? It is either a matchless impiety or a foolish 
arrogancy not to acknowledge her doctrine as a rule of faith." 


these being called for. More feasible was another proposal, that if 
the Donatists should lose their cause, and should be willing to 
return to the Catholic Church, their bishops should be recognized 
as such ; or, if preferred, the bishops of both parties should resign, 
and Donatists and Catholics unitedly choose new officers. "Be 
brothers with us in the Lord's inheritance," pleaded Augustine; 
" let us not for the sake of preserving our own dignities hinder the 
peace of Christ." He endeavoured at the same time to inspire his 
Catholic brethren with the charity that animated his own breast : 
" The eyes of the Donatists are inflamed, they must be treated 
tenderly. Let no one defend his faith by disputation, lest the 
spark let fall should kindle a great fire. If you should hear reviling 
language, endure it ; be as though you had not heard it ; be silent. 
' Shall I be silent,' you may ask, 'when charges are brought against 
my bishop ? ' Yes, be silent, not that you are to allow the charges, 
but to bear them." 

Accordingly there met at Carthage (a.d. 411) 286 bishops of the 
Catholic, and 279 of the Donatist party. 1 The latter, who stood in 
awe of the superior logic of Augustine, came to the conference 
reluctantly and full of distrust : this was manifest from the first- 
As the numbers were so great, Marcillinus directed that seven dis- 
putants from each side should be chosen. To this the Donatists 
objected ; and the greater part of the first day was spent in debate 
on this point, and on other questions of a formal nature. At 
length they yielded, and nominated their representatives, of whom 
Petilian was the chief spokesman. Augustine of course was the 
leader on the Catholic side ; and amongst his colleagues was 

When the deputies met again on the second day, the Donatists 
refused to be seated, saying : " The divine law forbids us to sit 
with the wicked." No notice was taken of this most offensive 
remark ; but the Catholics declining out of courtesy to sit whilst 
their opponents were standing, Marcellinus also ordered his own 
chair to be removed. Two subjects chiefly occupied the conference. 
The first related to an historical question of a hundred years before,, 
viz., the traditorship of Felix 2 and the validity of Csecilian's con- 

1 One hundred and twenty Catholic bishops are said to have been absent, and 
Bixty-four sees were vacant. Many of the Donatist bishops also were absent. It 
must be borne in mind that many of the villages of this province, as well as 
the towns, were then presided over by bishops. 

J See Early Church History, pp. 222, 224. The traditores, or betrayers, were 
those who in the Diocletian persecution gave up to the magistrates their copies 
of the New Testament to be publicly burnt. 



secration : into this we need not here enter. The other resolved 
itself into the great theological problem : What is the Church ? 

That which had been the apple of discord between Cyprian and 
Novatian, 1 the definition of the Church, was now keeping the 
Catholics and Donatists asunder. Both parties confounded the 
visible with the invisible Church, the cup with that which it con- 
tains. The Catholics maintained that, apart from the communion 
with the one visible Catholic Church, derived from the Apostles 
through the succession of bishops, there can be no communication 
of the Holy Spirit, and no salvation. Augustine thus confounded 
what Christianity had effected through the Church, with the Church 
itself as an outward institution. He did not see that the mighty 
effects brought about by the Gospel had been due to its inherent 
divine power ; nay, that it might have produced far purer and 
mightier effects, had it not been in so many ways disturbed and 
checked in its operation by the imperfect vehicle of its transmission. 
In his exclusion of dissenters from the benefit of the Gospel, Augus- 
tine does not come behind Cyprian : "No one," he says, " attains 
to salvation, and eternal life, who has not Christ for his Head. But 
no one can have Christ for Head, who does not belong to his body, 
which is the Church. The entire Christ is the Head and the Body ; 
the Head is the only-begotten Son of God, and the body is the 
Church. He who agrees not with Scripture in the doctrine con- 
cerning the Head, although he may stand in external communion 
with the Church, belongs not to the Church ; and he who holds 
fast to all that Scripture teaches respecting the Head, and yet 
cleaves not to the unity of the Church, belongs not to the Church." 
Whenever the Donatists appealed to miracles, answers to prayer, 
visions, and the holy lives of their bishops, as evidences that the 
true Church was with them, Augustine met them by a reference to 
such passages of Scripture, as Matt. xxiv. 24 : " There shall arise 
false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and 
wonders." " Let them not try to prove the genuineness of their 
Church by the councils of their bishops, or by deceitful miraculous 
signs, seeing that our Lord has put us on our guard against such 
proofs, but let them confine themselves to the Law and the Prophets, 
and the word of the only Shepherd." 

The Donatists, like the Novatians, held that every Church which 
tolerates unworthy members within it, is itself polluted by com- 
munion with them, and thus ceases to be a true Christian Church ; 
and by a natural but mistaken egotism, they took it for granted 
that they were themselves the true Church, and that the rest of 

1 See Early Church History, pp. 183 185. 


-Christendom was apostate and corrupt. Petilian argued that reli- 
gious acts are operative only in a pure Church ; that none but a 
blameless priest can administer the " sacraments." Augustine 
replied : " Often the conscience of man is unknown to me, but I 
am certain of the mercy of Christ." 

Petilian: Whoever receives the faith through an unbeliever 
receives not faith but guilt. 

Augustine : But Christ is faithful, from whom I receive faith and 
not guilt. 

Petilian: The character of a thing depends on its origin and 
root ; a genuine new birth can come only from good seed. 

Augustine : My origin is Christ ; my root is Christ ; my head is 
Christ. He alone makes me free from 'guilt, who died for our 
sins and rose again for our justification ; for I believe not in 
the minister by whom I am baptized, but in Him who justifies the 
sinner, so that my faith is counted to me for righteousness. 

It was a foregone conclusion that Marcellinus should give sen- 
tence against the Donatists. They were adjudged to have lost 
their cause and to be guilty of heterodoxy. It was determined that 
the sect should be utterly blotted out ; that all who would not con- 
form should be deprived of both place and name, so that the whole 
province might be brought back into the Catholic unity. To this 
object, unhappily, Augustine lent the weight of his eloquence, 
learning, and character. The pro-consul forbade the Donatists 
thenceforth to assemble for worship, and ordered them to give up 
their church-buildings to the Catholics ; at the same time ad- 
monishing the bishops to return to the one true Church. Appeal 
to the Emperor proved useless. Honorius, in 412, is sued a decree 
enacting severe penalties against the sect. The malcontents were 
to be heavily fined in proportion to their rank, and if obstinate were 
to forfeit all their property. Slaves and peasants were to be 
scourged into conformity, and their Catholic masters who should 
neglect to act on this order were to be punished as Donatists. 
Bishops and clergy were to be banished, and the church property 

Very many yielded, whole communities even, as at Cirta, returning 
bodily to the Catholic Church. A greater number, however, nobly 
preferred to suffer the loss of liberty and property rather than do 
violence to their consciences. Three hundred bishops and thousands 
of the inferior clergy were torn from their churches and banished 
to the islands. Some even, in the madness of despair, com- 
mitted suicide. " The persecution," says Julius Lloyd, " was as unre- 
lenting as that by which Louis XIV. coerced the Huguenots. Some 


yielded through fear of the Imperial Edict, others through the* 
extraordinary ability and fascinating influence of Augustine. Not 
Francis de Sales, Bossuet and Fenelon together, exercised over 
the Protestants of France a greater influence than Augustine 
alone, in -winning to his side all who were accessible to eloquence- 
or argument." 1 

The measures adopted were only too successful. The remnant 
of the Donatist Church, on the irruption of the Vandals, sided 
with the conquerors against the Empire, and were taken under 
their protection, but this Church never regained its influence. The 
Donatists lingered, however, till the pontificate of Gregory the 
Great at the end of the sixth century, but after his adverse edicts 
they disappear from history. 

During this long controversy Augustine vacillated between gentle 
and forcible methods of overcoming the Donatists. At one time 
we find him appealing to the example of Elijah, who slew with his 
own hand the prophets of Baal ; at another protesting against the 
penal measures by which it was proposed to coerce the schismatics : 
" You must go forward," he said, " simply with the word of truth ; 
you must seek to overcome by argument, else all the effect will be 
that instead of open and avowed heretics you will have hypocritical 
Catholic Christians." 

In a letter assigned to the year 408, Augustine defends with 
sophistical arguments the principle of coercion. "If any one saw 
his enemy running headlong to destroy himself, when he had 
become delirious through a dangerous fever, would he not in that 
case be much more truly rendering evil for evil if he permitted him 
to run on thus than if he took measures to have him seized and 
bound ? . . . "Who can love us more than God ? And yet God 
quickens us by salutary fear, and the sharp medicine of tribulation ; 
afflicts with famine even the patriarchs, disquiets a rebellious 
people by severe chastisements, and refuses though thrice besought 
to take away from the Apostle the thorn in the flesh. . . . What- 
ever the true Mother does, even when something severe and bitter 
is felt by her children at her hands, she is not rendering evil for 
evil, but is applying the benefit of discipline to counteract the evil 
of sin, not with the hatred which seeks to harm, but with the love 
which seeks to heal." 

At the Conference this question was necessarily uppermost in the 

1 A section of the Donatists, the Circumcelliones, burned the churches, mal- 
treated the Catholic clergy, committed many other outrages, and laid wait for 
Augustine himself. The moderate Donatists looked on in horror, but were 
powerless to check these excesses. See Early Church Hittory, p. 225. 



minds of the Donatist leaders over whose heads the sword of the 
magistrate hung suspended by a hair. " Did the Apostles," asked 
Petilian, " ever persecute any one, or did Christ ever deliver any 
one over to the secular power ? In dying for men he has given 
Christians the example to die, but not to kill." Another Donatist 
bishop, Gaudentius, pleaded : " The Saviour of souls sent fisher- 
men, not soldiers, to preach his faith. What must that man think 
of God who defends Him with outward violence?" To these un- 
answerable arguments Augustine had nothing to reply but the same 
kind of sophism ; "It is no doubt better to be led to God by in- 
struction than by fear of punishment or affliction; but although 
the former is better, the other is not to be neglected. Bad servants 
must be reclaimed by the rod of temporal suffering." No atrocities, 
alas, will be wanting when for the sake of the supposed good, either 
of the whole or of individuals, the question, What is right ? comes 
to be thus subordinated to the question, What is expedient ? With 
a strange perversity of interpretation, Augustine adduced as a 
Scriptural warrant for the most flagrant acts of oppression, our 
Saviour's command in the parable of the Supper, " compel them to 
come in." His sanction of persecution became from this time 
forward a precedent of great authority in the Church. In it is to 
be found the germ of that whole system of spiritual despotism and 
intolerance which culminated in the Inquisition. 

Whilst persecution was raging against the Donatists, Augustine 
embarked in the Pelagian controversy. Hitherto the doctrinal 
differences which agitated the Church had come from the East ; 
this arose in the West. 1 

1 The germ of the Pelagian doctrine had however for some time existed in 
the Eastern Church. Marius Mercator asserts that it had its birth in the Anti- 
ochian School, chiefly with Theodore of Mopsuestia (a.d. 392), and was carried 
to Rome by Eufinus, who, not daring himself to publish it, taught it to Pelagius. 
But it is to be noted that the cardinal doctrine of Pelagianism, man's natural 
goodness, is put by Athanasius, half a century earlier, into the mouth of 
Anthony. In his sermon to the monks the anchorite is made to say : " Virtue 
needs only the consent of the will, since it is within us, and originates in the 
mind, for the soul was created beautiful and upright. If it turn from its 
original nature, this is called vice. The thing therefore is not difficult ; for if 
we remain as we were originally created, we are in a state of virtue. Now if 
this had to be obtained from without, there would be real difficulty ; but since 
it is within us, let us guard the soul as a precious deposit which the Lord has 
committed to our keeping, in order that He may acknowledge his work to be as 
He made it. ... In this we have the Lord for our fellow- worker." Upon 
which Ruffner observes : " The origin of this doctrine was not the Bible, nor 
even apostolical tradition, but the Platonism of the Fathers from the time of 
Justin Martyr. Plato taught the entire moral ability of man to purify his soul 
irom sin." 


About the end of the fourth century Pelagius, 1 a British monk, a 
man of learning and reputation, took up his abode in Eome, where 
he became the disciple of Eufinus. Amongst his acquaintances 
was Caelestius, 2 a native of Ireland, who had forsaken the profession 
of an advocate for the ascetic life. The two friends began to put 
forth views in direct antagonism to those of Augustine, who had 
for some time taught that man is by nature wholly evil, and in 
himself impotent to embrace and pursue good. They remained, 
however, unmolested until the sack of the city in 410, when 
Caelestius fled to Carthage. Here his doctrines excited alarm, and 
were condemned by a Council held in 412. Augustine brought his- 
powerful intellect to bear upon the infant heresy, refuting it both 
by preaching and writing. 

Pelagius, meantime, had gone to Palestine, where (415) he was- 
charged with heresy before bishop John of Jerusalem, and a synod of 
his clergy. Orosius, ayoung Spanish ecclesiastic, who had been living 
with Jerome, stood forth as his accuser. When Orosius supported 
his charge by a reference to Augustine, Pelagius contemptuously 
asked, " What is Augustine to me?" Orosius answered, that a 
man who presumed thus to speak of the bishop to whom the North 
African Church owed her restoration, deserved to be excommuni- 
cated. John, who also made little account of the authority of 
Augustine, exclaimed, "I will be Augustine," and undertook him- 
self the defence of Pelagius. 3 The synod, on the ground of juris- 
diction, referred the question to the bishop of Eome. In the same 
year, before a synod at Diospolis, the ancient Lydda, Pelagius was 
tried and pronounced innocent. It was easy for a doctrinal heresy 
to take root in the East. 

Caelestius, who had returned to Eome, seized this occasion to 
appeal against the sentence of the Carthaginian synod. A council 
was called by Zosimus, the Eoman bishop ; and on Caelestius dis- 
avowing all dogmas which the Eoman See had condemned, he was 
exculpated, Zosimus sending a letter of reproof to the Africans for 
listening too readily to charges against good men. But Augustine 
and the African prelates were not to be thus trifled with. They 
assembled again in synod at Carthage (a.d. 418), asserted their 
independence of Eome, and passed nine canons, which came to be 
regarded as the bulwark of the Church against Pelagianism. The 
Emperor Honorius now interposed, declared the Pelagians to be 

1 This name is the Greek form for Morgan i.e., sea-born. 
2 Jerome describes Caelestius as Scotorum pultibus pragravatus, " heavy with. 
Scotch porridge." The term Scot at that time signified a native of Ireland. 
s John spoke only Greek, Orosius only Latin, but Pelagius both languages. 


heretics, and subjected them to disabilities and penalties. Upon 
this Zosimus, pressed by the Court and by the anti-Pelagian party, 
re-opened the matter, and summoned Caelestius before a fresh 
council. But Caelestius quitted Rome ; and Zosimus excommuni- 
cated him and Pelagius as heretics, at the same time requiring all 
bishops to subscribe the African canons. Pelagius and his ad- 
herents were banished. 1 

The Pelagian doctrine may be thus stated. Adam was created 
mortal and would have died, even if he had not sinned ; and men 
come now into the world in the same state in which Adam was 
created. Adam's sin brought injury to his descendants, not by 
transmission, but by the influence of example. As man is able to 
discern good from evil, so he has power to will and to work what is 
good ; as by our own free will we run into sin, so by the same free 
will are we able to repent and reform, and raise ourselves to the 
highest degree of virtue and piety. Pelagius, indeed, spoke of 
grace, but by it he understood that knowledge of his will which 
God has given the law and the Gospel, the example of the 
Saviour's life. He denied that the help of the Holy Spirit is 
necessary to man's salvation. He professed to follow Scripture, 
but when Scripture crossed his opinions he forsook that safe guide, 
and gave himself up to the beguiling direction of his own reason. 

Augustine's teaching was the very opposite of all this. He held 
that death, temporal and eternal, with all the diseases of the body, 
are the consequences and penalty of sin. He denied, sometimes 
absolutely, sometimes in a modified sense, the freedom of the will, 
and taught that without grace man can do only evil. Original sin, 
derived from Adam's transgression, he held to be a cardinal doc- 
trine of the Gospel, and that God exacts the penalty due to his 
broken law, even from the heathen and from infants of the tenderest 
age if unbaptized. In intimate connection with this doctrine he 
maintained the existence of an eternal decree, separating ante- 
cedently to any difference of merit one portion of the human race 
from another ordaining one to everlasting life, abandoning the 
other to everlasting misery. This he allowed to be a perplexing 
mystery, and repugnant to our natural ideas of God's justice, but 
he defended it on the ground of his inscrutable and sovereign will. 
Predestination, moreover, implied irresistible grace and final per- 

Augustine did not all at once arrive at these conclusions ; and 
even when he had matured his system he shrank from its legitimate 

1 Caelestius went to Constantinople, where he was kindly received by Nes- 


consequences. His charity was better than his logic. We find 
him reproving some who asserted that God has predestinated the 
wicked, not only to suffer eternal punishment, but also to commit 
sin, their sinful actions being determined by an inevitable necessity. 
And in a letter (a.d. 426) he writes, " We have been visited by two 
young men who report that your monastery has been agitated by 
dissension. Some, they told us, entertained such exalted views of 
grace as wholly to deny free-will, and even maintained that in the 
day of judgment God will not render to every one according to his 
works. Most of you, however, hold a different opinion, main- 
taining that man's free-will is assisted by God's grace, and by it 
disposed to what is right ; and that when the Lord shall come to 
render to every one according to his works, He will judge those 
works only to be good which he has prepared for us to walk in ; and 
this I pronounce to be the right opinion. ... If there be no grace 
of God, how does He save the world ; if there be no free-will, how is 
He to judge the world ?" 

Augustine erred through supposing that divine truth can be fully 
grasped by human reason, and was obliged to explain away a host 
of clear and positive statements of Scripture, which controverted 
his positions. 1 " His was the error," observes Canon Mozley, " of 
those who follow without due consideration the strong first im- 
pression which the human mind entertains, that there must be 
some definite truth to be arrived at on the question, and who there- 
fore imagine that they cannot be doing other than good service if 
they only add to what is defective, enough to make it complete, or 
take away from what is ambiguous, enough to make it decisive. . . 
If revelation as a whole does not speak explicitly, revelation did 
not intend to do so ; and to impose a definite truth upon it when it 
designedly stops short of one, is as real an error of interpretation 
as to deny a truth which it expresses." 

Dr. Schaff refers the two systems to the characters of their 
authors. "Pelagius was an upright monk, who, without inward 
conflicts, won for himself in the way of tranquil development a 
legal piety which knew neither the depths of sin nor the heights of 
grace. Augustine passed through sharp convulsions and bitter 
conflicts, till he was overtaken by the unmerited grace of God. He 
had a soaring intellect and a glowing heart, and only found peace 
after he had long been tossed by the waves of passion ; he tasted 

1 For instance, he distorts the plain words in 1 Tim. ii. 4, " Whowilleth that 
all men should be saved," into " all manner of men," rich and poor, learned 
and unlearned, and he makes the sense to be, that all who are saved, are saved 
only by the will of God. 


all the misery of sin, and then all the glory of redemption. . . . 
The Pelagian controversy turns upon the mighty antithesis of sin 
and grace. ... It comes at last to the question whether redemp- 
tion is chiefly a work of God or of man ; whether man needs to be 
born anew, or merely improved. The soul of the Pelagian system 
is human freedom ; the soul of the Augustinian is divine grace. 
The one system proceeds from the liberty of choice to legalistic 
piety ; the other from the bondage of sin to the evangelical liberty 
of the children of God. The one loves to admire the dignity 
and strength of man; the other loses itself in adoration of the 
glory and omnipotence of God. The one flatters natural pride, the 
other is a gospel for penitent publicans and sinners. Pelagianism 
begins with self-exaltation, and ends with the sense of self-deception 
and impotency. Augustinianism casts man first into the dust of 
humiliation and despair, in order to lift him on the wings of grace 
to supernatural strength, and lead him ... up to the heaven of 
the knowledge of God." 

For his clear setting forth of the doctrine of divine grace, apart 
from the presumptuous theory of predestination, the Church owes 
to Augustine a debt of lasting gratitude. In his enunciation of 
this evangelical truth he stood opposed to the traditional principle 
of salvation by good works, which was taught by almost every 
writer of the time. And although it was left for the Eeformed 
Church fully to endorse his apostolic teaching on this point, yet in 
every century, thoughtful and humble disciples accepted it for 
themselves, and were edified by his Christlike spirit. But the 
Catholic Church, through her doctors and councils, continued to 
uphold the efficacious merit of good works, on which the Council 
of Trent, in 1546, set its seal, ruling that " If any one shall say 
that justifying faith is none other than a trust in the divine mercy 
forgiving our sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that trust alone by 
which we are justified, let him be accursed." 

Hitherto the North African province had escaped the scourge of 
the Northern hordes which had laid Europe waste. Its turn was 
now come. Genseric, King of the Vandals, the most terrible of all 
the barbarian leaders, crossed from Spain in 429, and ravaged the 
country with all the atrocities in which uncivilized races indulge 
when let loose upon a wealthy and luxurious population. The 
miseries the Catholics had inflicted on the Donatists were now 
multiplied upon themselves. 

After overrunning nearly the whole province, the invading army 
laid siege to Hippo. During several months the city was success- 
fully defended by the Roman general Count Boniface. Augustine 


was old and infirm. " The devastation of his country," says his 
biographer Possidonius, " embittered his days. He saw the towns 
ruined, the country houses destroyed, the inhabitants slain or 
fugitives, the churches destitute of priests, the virgins and monks 
dispersed. Some had succumbed to torments, others had perished 
by the sword, others again were taken captive and served hard and 
brutal masters." 

Several bishops, with the remnant of their flocks, took refuge in 
Hippo, and found shelter in Augustine's house. " The misfortunes," 
writes Possidonius, " of which we were witnesses were the topic of 
our daily conversation. We pondered the terrible judgments which 
the Divine justice was accomplishing before our eyes, and we said : 
' Thou art just and good, and thy judgments are true.' We mingled 
our griefs, our groans and our tears, and offered them to the Father 
of all mercies and God of all comfort, beseeching Him to deliver us 
from the evils we endured and those we feared." " What I ask of 
God," said Augustine one day at table, " is, that He would be 
pleased to deliver this city from the enemies who besiege it ; or if 
He has otherwise ordained, that He will give his servants strength 
to endure the evils He shall permit to befall them ; or at least that 
He will withdraw me from this world and call me to Himself." 
This last prayer was soon granted. 

In the third month of the siege, Augustine was attacked with 
fever. A man brought to him his sick son, and entreated him to 
lay his hands upon him. The dying bishop asked why, if he had 
the power to heal the sick, he should not exercise it first upon 
himself ? The father replied that he had had a dream, in which he 
heard a voice say : " Go seek the bishop Augustine, ask him to lay 
hands on thy son, and he shall be healed." Upon this, Augustine 
did as the man requested, and (so Possidonius relates) the youth 
immediately recovered. 

It was a maxim with Augustine that even the most experienced 
Christian ought not to die without a season of penitential retire- 
ment. Accordingly, as he felt death approaching, he begged his 
friends to leave him entirely to himself, and not to enter his 
chamber, except with his physician or the attendants. He caused 
the penitential psalms to be written out large, and hung before him 
upon the wall ; and in this manner, in solitude and prayer, he 
passed the last six days of his life. He died on the 28th of August, 
430, aged seventy-six years. 

With Augustine departed the glory of the North African Church. 
"Eising with Tertullian towards the end of the second century, it 
ran a fervid course like its own ardent sun, and set almost as pre- 

Augustine's genius and want of courage. 155 

cipitately in the early part of the fifth." The name of Christian 
still survived, but little more was left than the dregs of Christianity, 
to withstand, two centuries later, the fury of the Mohammedan 
invasion. 1 

Since the apostles, no man has occupied a more important place 
in the Church than Augustine, or has exercised more lasting influ- 
ence on mankind. "He was," says Schaff, " a philosophical and 
theological genius of the first order, towering like a pyramid above 
his age, and looking down commandingly upon succeeding centuries. 
He had a mind uncommonly fertile and deep, bold and soaring, and 
with it, what is better, a heart full of Christian love and humility. 
He stands of right by the side of the greatest philosophers of 
antiquity and of modern times. . . . With royal munificence he 
scattered ideas in passing which have set in mighty motion other 
lands and later times." 

Want of courage, no less than an undue reverence for tradition, 
hindered Augustine from standing forth as a Church Beformer. 
He confesses that Christianity, which God made free, appointing 
few sacraments and easy to be observed, had in his time become 
more burdened with ceremonies than the Jewish Church itself; 
and he professes himself ready to abolish those customs which are 
neither contained in Scripture, nor enjoined by councils, nor con- 
firmed by universal practice. But here he stops. The more flagrant 
abuses of the age were left untouched. "I dare not," he says, 
"condemn more freely many things, because I must take care not 
to offend the piety of some and the pugnacity of others." 

It is with no desire to dwell with harshness on the defects in 
Augustine's character, but because his surpassing gifts must not 
blind us to his deficiencies, that we add Isaac Taylor's words. 
" Everyone must allow this eminent man to have been a fervent 
and heavenly-minded Christian. That grace which prevails over 
nature, rendering whoever receives it a new creature in Christ 
Jesus, shone in him conspicuously ; and his devotional writings 
come home to the heart of every spiritually-minded reader. . . 
No moment in the history of the Church can be named more 
fearfully critical than when the bishop of Hippo stood before 
Christendom in the prime and vigour of his religious course. The 
fate of Europe was trembling on the point between an abyss of 
ignorance and anarchy, and a possible renovation. . . . There was 

1 At the period of the Vandal conquest the North African provinces num- 
bered no fewer than 500 Catholic bishops ; in a.d. 457, less than eighteen years 
afterwards, only three remained. There appears to have been no bishop of 
Hippo after Augustine. 


a, downward rush toward all those follies and abuses which rendered 
Christianity an object of contempt to the Saracen conquerors of the 
next century. Yet was there at the same time a rising movement 
towards reform ; more than two or three raised a remonstrant voice 
against the frauds and illusions of the age. . . . Who better than 
Augustine might have led this early reformation ? . . . 0, that it 
had been whispered to him at that dark moment, to think, and 
.speak, and act as a true father of the Church ! . . . Fruitless 
regrets ! Augustine, the last hope of his times, joined hands with 
the besotted bigots around him, who would listen to no reproofs. 
Superstition and spiritual despotism, illusion, knavery, and abject 
formalism, received a new warrant from the high seat of influence 
which he occupied." 1 

Augustine was a most voluminous writer. His Confessions have 
been freely used in the foregoing narrative. The treatise On the 
Trinity is associated with a well-known legendary anecdote. As he 
was walking to and fro on the sea-shore of Hippo, he saw what 
appeared to be a little boy busily employed in digging a hole in the 
sand and then filling it with water, which he fetched in a cockle- 
shell from the sea. Augustine paused and spoke to him : " What 
art thou doing, my child ? " "lam trying to empty the sea into 
this hole which I have dug." " My child, it is impossible to get 
the great sea into that little hole." " Not more impossible, 
Augustine," replied the angel (for such he was), "than for thy 
finite mind to comprehend the mystery of the Trinity." 

His most famous work is entitled The City of God. " The later 
opponents of Christianity among the heathen charged the misfor- 
tunes and the decline of the Eoman Empire on the overthrow of 
idolatry. Augustine answered the charge in his immortal work 
The City of God (that is, the Church of Christ), upon which he 
laboured twelve years, from 413 to 426, amidst the storms of the 
great migration, and towards the close of his life. He was not 
wanting in appreciation of the old Roman virtues, and he attributes 
io these the former greatness of the empire, and to the decline of 
them he imputes her growing weakness. But he rose at the same 
time far above the superficial view which estimates persons and 
things by the scale of earthly profit and loss, and of temporary 
success. The City of God is the most powerful, comprehensive, 
profound, and fertile production in refutation of heathenism and 

1 Augustine not only endorsed Ambrose's discovery of the buried martyrs 
under the altar at Milan (see ante, p. 63), but himself presents us with a tissue 
of miraculous cures wrought by the bones of the martyr Stephen, quite as 


vindication of Christianity, which the ancient Church has bequeathed 
to us, and forms a worthy close to her literary contest with Graeco- 
Koman paganism. It is a grand funeral discourse upon the depart- 
ing universal empire of heathenism, and a lofty salutation to the 
approaching universal order of Christianity. While even Jerome 
deplored in the destruction of the city the downfall of the empire,, 
as the omen of the approaching doom of the world, the African 
Father saw in it only a passing revolution preparing the way for 
new conquests of Christianity. Standing at that remarkable turning- 
point of history, he considers the origin, progress and end of the- 
perishable kingdom of this world, and the imperisbable kingdom of 
God, from the fall of man to the final judgment, where at last they 
fully and for ever separate into hell and heaven." 

We conclude our notice of Augustine with the passage in which he- 
gives "a local habitation " to the faculty of Memory, 

" I come to the fields and spacious palaces of my Memory, where 
are the treasures of countless images brought into it from all manner 
of things by the senses. There is stored up, also, whatsoever we 
think, either by enlarging or diminishing, or any other way varying 
those things which the senses apprehended : yea, and whatever else 
has been committed to it which forgetfulness has not yet swallowed 
up and buried. When I enter this store-house, I require what I will 
to be brought forth, and some things come instantly ; others must 
be longer sought for, and are fetched, as it were, out of some inner 
receptacle ; others, again, rush out in troops, and whilst something 
else is desired and enquired for, start forth, as who should say, ' Is 
it perchance we ? ' These I drive away with the hand of my heart 
from before the face of my remembrance, until what I wish discovers 
itself and comes to view out of its secret place. Other things present 
themselves without effort, and in continuous order as they are called 
for, those in front giving place to those that follow, and as they 
make way returning to their hiding-place ready to come forth again 
when I will. All which takes place when I repeat a thing from 
memory. All these things, each of which entered by its own 
avenue, are severally and under general heads there laid up, being, 
received into that great store-house of the memory, in her number- 
less secret and inexpressible windings, to be forthcoming at need. 
Yet it is not the things themselves that enter in, but only the 
images of the things, which how they are formed who can tell?' 
Even when I dwell in darkness and silence, in my memory I can 
produce colours if I will, and discern betwixt black and white ; 
sounds also are there lying dormant, and laid up as it were apart. 
For these, too, I call, and forthwith they appear ; and though my 


tongue be still and my throat mute, yet can I sing as much as I 
will. The same with the other things piled up by the other senses ; 
so that I discern the scent of lilies from violets, though smelling 
nothing. In that vast court of my memory there are present also 
with me heaven, earth, sea, and whatever I can think upon in 
them. There also meet I with myself and recall myself, and when, 
where, and what I have done, and under what feelings. Out of the 
same store do I myself with the past combine fresh and fresh like- 
nesses of things which I have experienced or have believed, and 
thence again infer future actions, events and hopes, on all which 
I reflect a3 if present. Excessive great is this power of memory, 
my God, a large and boundless chamber ; who has ever sounded 
the depths of it? Men go abroad to admire the height of the 
mountains, the mighty billows of the sea, the broad flow of the 
rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the courses of the stars, and 
jet they omit to wonder at themselves." 


The Spirit of the Age. 

Public Worship. " Three centuries and more," says Cardinal 
Newman, "were necessary for the infant Church to attain her 
mature and perfect form and due stature. Athanasius, Basil, and 
Ambrose are the fully instructed doctors of her doctrine, morals 
and discipline." Strange interpretation of Church History ! The 
presumptuous forbidding to marry, the plagiarism of Brahminical 
self-torture, the invocation of the martyrs and adoration of their 
bones and ashes, the fond belief in lying wonders, the exaltation of 
priestly rule to the prejudice of the civil power instead of the un- 
worldly kingdom of Jesus, are these the tokens of fully instructed 
teaching in doctrine, morals and discipline ? 

The preceding biographies have presented in some fulness the 
state of the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries. It will only 
be necessary here to add a few additional touches. 

To begin with the order of public worship, as it was conducted in 
Constantinople and other great cities. " A stranger on entering 
the spacious open court in front of the church, which was flanked 
on either side by cloisters, beheld the fountain where the wor- 
shippers were expected to wash their hands before entering the 
divine presence. Lingering in these cloisters, and pressing around 


the faithful to solicit their prayers, he would observe men, pale, 
dejected, and clad in sack-cloth. These were the first class of 
penitents, men of notorious guilt, whom only a long period of 
humiliating probation could admit even within hearing of the 
service. As he advanced to the church door, he had to pass the 
scrutiny of the doorkeepers, who guarded admission, and distributed 
the several classes of worshippers to their proper seats. Nearest to 
the door were placed the catechumens and the less guilty penitents 
of the second order. Amongst these also Jews and heathens were 
admitted, that they might profit by the religious instruction. He 
would see the walls of the church lined with marbles ; the roof often 
ceiled with mosaic, and supported by lofty columns with gilded 
capitals ; the doors inlaid with ivory or silver, the distant altar 
glittering with precious stones. In the midst of the nave stood the 
pulpit or reading desk, around which were arranged the choristers. 
When the chanting was ended, one of the inferior clergy ascended 
the pulpit, and read the portion of Scripture for the day. He was 
succeeded by the preacher, a presbyter, or a bishop, selected for his 
learning and eloquence, whose discourse was frequently interrupted 
by the plaudits of the auditory. Around the pulpit, also, was the 
last order of penitents, who prostrated themselves in humble 
reverence during the prayers and the benediction of the bishop. 
Here the steps of the uninitiated stranger must pause. He might 
only behold at respectful distance the striking scene : first of the 
baptized worshippers in their ranks, the women in galleries above ; 
beyond, in still further secluded sanctity, on an elevated semi-circle, 
the bishop in the midst of his attendant clergy. Even the gorgeous 
throne of the Emperor was below this platform. Before it stood 
the altar, spread with a cloth of fine linen, and in some churches 
overhung with a richly- wrought canopy. In the East, embroidered 
curtains or light doors altogether hid it from view. Such was the 
ceremonial as it was addressed to the multitude. But as soon as 
the liturgy commenced, the catechumens were dismissed, and the 
church doors were closed. 1 To add to the impressiveness, night 
was sometimes chosen for the Christian, as it had formerly been 
for the pagan mysteries." 

How unlike all this to the simplicity of the primitive worship ! If, 

1 The dismissal of the uninitiate was called Missa Catechumenorum, that of 
the baptized at the end of the service came in later ages to be known as Missa 
Fidelium. By degrees the word 3Iissa was retained only for the latter, and was 
applied, not to the act of dismissal, but to the service itself ; and thus in its 
slightly altered form of Mass it came to signify the consecration and oblation of 
the Host (Jiostia, victim or sacrifice). 


however, the stranger had happened upon the birthday of some popular 
Saint, he would have beheld a still greater contrast. " As soon as 
he passed the door his senses would be greeted by the perfume of 
flowers, 1 and the noon-day glare of lamps and tapers. He would 
see the floor covered with a prostrate crowd of pilgrims, imprinting 
their devout kisses on the walls and pavement, and directing their 
prayers to the relics of the saint, which were usually concealed 
behind a linen or silken veil." Suspended on the walls or on the 
pillars of the church he would see the votive offerings of the faithful, 
the model in gold, silver or wood, of an eye, a hand, a foot, the 
picture of a shipwreck, the memento of some special blessing. How 
early this imitation of a pagan usage was first practised, cannot be 
said with certainty, but it was already in vogue, both in the East 
and West, at the period we are now reviewing. 2 

The truth is that the public worship of the Christians had 
approached perilously near to that of the ancient Greeks and 
Komans. Thus there were in both rituals splendid robes, mitres, 
tiaras, croziers (identical with the lituus, or crook of the augur), 
processions, lustrations, images, gold and silver vessels, and, in the 
course of the fifth century, incense. The heathens supposed that 
their country would be more prosperous in proportion as the temples 
of the gods and heroes were multiplied, and this notion descended 
to the Christians. New churches were continually being dedicated 
to Christ and the saints, in order to render heavenly assistance 

1 The use of flowers, whether for strewing the graves of the dead, or adorning 
the churches, dates from the latter part of the fourth century. The former of 
these two customs (they would not have dreamed of the latter) was repudiated 
by the Early Christians as a heathen observance. One of the earliest passages 
in which it is alluded to is in Ambrose : "I will not sprinkle his tomb with 
flowers, but with the sweet scent of Christ's spirit ; let others scatter baskets of 
lilies ; our lily is Christ." Jerome says: " Some husbands strew over the tombs 
of their wives, violets, roses, lilies, and purple flowers." The practice was soon 
extended to the churches, first to those of the martyrs, which in their origin 
were only enlarged sepulchres, and then to the basilicas. Jerome commends 
Nepotianus for decorating both kinds of buildings with flowers, foliage, and 
vine leaves. 

2 The classical student is familiar with this custom. Many offerings, arms, 
legs, and other parts of the body, in metal, stone, or clay, which were formerly 
hung up in the temples, are still preserved in museums and cabinets. Persons 
saved from shipwreck used to hang up their clothes in the temple of Neptune, 
with a picture representing their danger and escape. Soldiers discharged from 
service suspended their arms to Mars; gladiators, their swords to Hercules; and 
poets, the fillets of their hair to Apollo. The temple of JUsculapius, however, 
in which were hung up tablets recording the cures wrought by that god, seems to 
have been the chief model for the Christian shrine. 


more powerful and certain. As was to be expected, the idea of 
sanctity which had become attached to places of worship lost 
nothing of its force ; as we have more than once seen in preceding 
chapters, the churches, like the persons of the priests, were 
surrounded with an ever increasing halo of solemn mystery. 

Baptism and the Eucharist. We drew attention in the former 
volume to the explicit declarations of John the Baptist, our Lord 
Himself, and Peter, that whereas John's baptism was with water, 
Christ's disciples should be baptized with the Holy Ghost ; and we 
at the same time pointed out, how early this grand distinction began 
to be lost sight of. Even the more thoughtful so identified the 
spiritual change with the external rite, as to be unable to conceive 
of the one without the other ; whilst in the belief of the multitude, 
who lost sight altogether of the former, immersion in water 
removed, as by a magical and instantaneous process, all the defile- 
ment of sin, and made men fit for Heaven. 

The writers of the previous century, Tertullian, Hippolytus and 
others, insist so unmistakably on this almost talismanic power 
as to leave little to be added by those who followed them. Chry- 
sostom clothes the same idea in his own fervid language. ' ' Although 
a man should be foul with every human vice, the blackest that can 
be named, yet when he descends into the baptismal pool, he comes 
up from the divine waters purer than the beams of noon. . . . The 
baptized put on a royal garment, a purple dipped in the blood of 
the Lord." Basil urged baptism in his most declamatory style 
"Beware lest procrastinating and providing no oil, thou should 
come upon the fatal day. Who in that hour shall administer the 
rite ? It is night ; no helper is at hand ; death is near. . . , 
' Alas, I neglected to cast off the burden of my sins when it would 
have been so easy ! Miserable wretch ! I washed not my sins 
away in the sweet waters of baptism ; and lo, I perish ! Even now 
I might have been sitting in the choir of angels, might have shared 
the delights of heaven.' " Gregory of Nyssa states that when 
alarmed by earthquakes, pestilences, or other public calamities,, 
such multitudes rushed to be baptized, that the clergy were 
oppressed by the labour of receiving them. It was the same 
superstitious view which induced Constantine the Great to defer 
his baptism to the latest hour of life. 1 

Each successive age contributed its share towards the conversion 
of the morsel of bread which the priest had blessed, into an object 
of adoration and supernatural efficacy, as it is this day regarded in 

1 See Early Church History, p. 245. 


the Eomish Church. It is true that the best writers of this period 
see beyond the external, and dwell upon that inward and heavenly 
communion with Christ, of which the outward observance, if now 
of any further service, is only a sign and a memorial. Thus 
Athanasius, commenting on John vi. 62, declares that the par- 
taking of the flesh and blood of Christ is not there to be understood 
in a literal sense. " Christ," he says, " mentions on this occasion 
his ascension to heaven for the very purpose of turning away men's 
minds from sensuous notions, and leading them to the idea of a 
spiritual nourishment, inasmuch as He communicates Himself to 
each after a spiritual manner." And Jerome : "If the bread which 
came down from heaven is the Lord's body, and the wine which He 
gave to his disciples his blood, let us go up with the Lord into that 
great and high room, and receive at his hand the cup which is the 
New Covenant. He invites us to the feast, and is Himself our 
meat ; He eats with us, and we eat Him. . . . Jesus Christ has 
given his blood to redeem us, and this may be taken either for his 
spiritual and divine flesh, whereof He saith Himself, ' My flesh is 
meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed; ' or for his flesh which 
was crucified, and his blood which in his passion was spilt with the 
soldier's lance." So Augustine: "The flesh without the spirit 
profits nothing. The inward act of feeding is to be distinguished 
from the outward. The former is a privilege only of believers ; the 
unbelieving and the unworthy receive nothing but the sacrament of 
the body and blood of Christ." 

But the Fathers of the fourth century do not always write thus 
soberly. Take an example from Ambrose's funeral oration over his 
brother Satyrus. The vessel in which Satyrus was returning to 
Italy ran upon the rocks. Unbaptized and uninitiated in the 
"mysteries," the young man sought amongst those on board for a 
morsel of the consecrated bread, which when he had found he 
wrapped in a sacrificial kerchief and tied about his neck. Thus 
armed, he fearlessly leapt into the sea, believing himself to be so 
well protected as to need no other help. 

Virginity. Foremost amongst the elements of which the ascetic 
life was composed is the vow of perpetual celibacy. How the un- 
married state came in the fourth century to occupy the place that 
martyrdom had held during the times of persecution, and how, by 
its introduction as a rule of devout Christian life, one of the most 
awful and emphatic predictions of the New Testament was accom- 
plished, has already been shown in the Early Church History. 1 

1 Pt. ii. c. xvii. " God, when he would form a happy and holy world, said, 
1 It is not good for man to be alone.' Satan, inspiring the apostacy to make 


Prom the time of the Council of Nicaea, the virgin state is the 
favourite theme with all the great Church writers ; and is presented 
by them sometimes in the very language of the Oriental theosophy. 
The great object was the mortification of the flesh ; and in this 
exercise, observes Euffner, Virginity was the most difficult to attain, 
requiring the aid of all other mortifications. " So to thin the blood, 
attenuate the flesh, enfeeble the nerves, dry up the marrow, and 
exhaust the constitution, as to destroy the natural appetite," in this 
it was considered lay the secret of overcoming "both the demon 
without and the demon within." Even Origen, so early as the 
third century, says: "When we abstain from flesh, we do it to 
chasten the body and reduce it to servitude, in order that we may 
-extinguish our carnal affections, and so put to death our corporeal 
actions." This kind of teaching was carried much further by the 
writers of the next century. 

To begin with Athanasius. " The Son of God has, besides his 
other gifts, granted us to have on earth an image of the sanctity of 
angels, namely, Virginity. The maidens who possess this virtue, 
-and whom the Church Catholic is wont to call the brides of Christ, 
are admired even by the Gentiles as being the temple of the Word. 
Nowhere, except among us Christians, is this holy profession per- 
fected ; so that we may appeal to this very fact as a convincing 
proof that with us the true religion is to be found." "A great 
virtue truly is virginity," exclaims Basil, "which, to say all in a 
"word, renders man like to the incorruptible God. For the soul, 
holding to the idea of the true good, and soaring up to it as on the 
wing of this incorruptness, and perceiving that by this alone the 
incorruptible God can be worthily worshipped, brings up the vir- 
ginity of the body as an obsequious handmaid to assist her in the 
worship of beauty like her own." 

The two Gregorys teem with the same kind of dreamy philosophy. 
Nazianzen thus addresses a virgin : " Thou hast chosen the angelic 
life, and hast ranged thyself with those who are unyoked [the 
angels] ; be not thou borne downward to the flesh ; be not thou 
borne downward to matter." Nyssen writes: " In order that we 
may, with a clear eye, gaze upon the light of the intellectual 
universe, we must disengage ourselves from every mundane 
affection"; "that," in the words of Chrysostom, "the soul dis- 
engaged from its trammels and all earthly thoughts may wing its 
way to its home and its native soil." Chrysostom indeed falls into 

the world and even the Church unholy and unhappy, said, ' It is good for man 
to be alone ; nay, it is better for him to be alone.' " 


a rhapsody when he contemplates the lustre of virginity. " The- 
virgin when she goes abroad should strike all with amazement, as 
if an angel had just come down from heaven. All who look upon 
her should be thrown into stupor at the sight of her sanctity. 
When she sits at church it is in the profoundest silence, her eye 
catches nothing of the objects around her, she sees neither women 
nor men, but her Spouse only. Not only does she hide herself 
from the eyes of men, she avoids the society of secular women also. 
Who is it that shall dare approach her ? Where is the man that 
shall venture to touch this flaming spirit ? All stand aloof, willing 
or unwilling, all are fixed in amazement as if there were before 
their eyes a mass of incandescent and sparkling gold." 

Between these soaring imaginations, however, and the actual life 
of multitudes of those who assumed the vows of celibacy, a great 
gulf intervened. In the same treatise from which these words are 
taken Chrysostom thus discloses the reverse side of the picture. 
"Alas, my soul ! our virginity has fallen into contempt. The veil 
that parted it off from matrimony is rent by shameless hands ; the 
holy of holies is trodden under foot, and its grave and tremendous 
sanctities have become profane, and are thrown open to all ; and 
that which once was had in reverence, as so much more excellent 
than wedlock, is sunk far below it. Nor is it the enemy that has 
effected all this, but the virgins themselves !" 

That the monastic vow was very imperfectly kept, both by men 
and women, is notorious. Denouncing the practice of the unmarried 
clergy, who, under the name of spiritual sisters, kept young women, 
often "consecrated virgins," as housekeepers, Chrysostom exclaims: 
" What a spectacle it is to enter the cell of a solitary brother, and 
see the apartment hung about with female gear. But it is a greater 
riddle still to visit the dwelling of a rich monk ; for you find the 
solitary surrounded with a bevy of lasses, just, one might say, like 
the leader of a company of singing and dancing girls. What can 
be more disgraceful ! Forbidden by the apostolic precept to meddle 
at all with temporal matters, he spends his time, not only in mun- 
dane, but even in effeminate trifles. He is sent to the silversmith's 
to inquire if my lady's mirror is finished, if her vase is ready, if 
her scent-cruet has been returned ; for matters have come to such 
a pass that the virgins use more toilet luxuries than those who have 
not taken the vow. From the silversmith's he must run to the 
perfumer's to inquire about her aromatics ; from the perfumer's to 
the linendraper's ; and thence to the upholsterer's. For the good 
man is so complaisant that he will perform any errand, however 
trivial. Add to all these cares the jarrings and scoldings which 


beset a house full of pampered women ! Paul says : 'Be ye not the 
servants of men;' how then shall we be the slaves of women!" 

Of the 150 extant epistles of Jerome, the greater part have 
Virginity for their subject, and abound in exhortations, cautions, 
and rebukes, to these "holy pets of the Church." " Some priests," 
he says, in a letter to Eustochium, "walk forth in the most public 
manner, and by sly winks draw after them crowds of young men. 
They dress in thin purple robes, and tie their hair loose that it may 
fall over their shoulders, over which a mantle is thrown. They 
wear short sleeves and thin slippers, and go mincing as they walk. 
And this is all their virginity." The monks were no better. 
"Some you may see with their loins girt, clad in dingy cloaks, 
with long beards, who yet can never break away from the company 
of women ; but live under the same roof, sit at the same tables, are 
waited upon by young girls, and want nothing proper to the married 
state except wives ! " 

The upholders of celibacy relied upon the example of the Virgin 
Mary ; the dogma of her perpetual virginity was essential to their 
position: so early a writer as Clement of Alexandria alludes to it. 
The unsophisticated reader of the New Testament is left in no 
doubt that Mary had children after the birth of our Lord. The 
language of Matt. i. 25, and Luke ii. 7, with the mention of the 
brothers of our Lord, 1 is too plain and conclusive to be touched 
by any authority of Church Father, Council, or Pope. " To have 
admitted," remarks Isaac Taylor, "the plain sense of the in- 
telligible phrase employed by the inspired evangelist would have 
been tantamount to a betrayal of the whole scheme of religious 
celibacy. Only let, it have been granted that the virtue of the 
'mother of God' was nothing better than real virtue, and that her 
piety was a principle of the heart, and that her purity was the 
purity of the affections; and only allow that she was a 'holy 
woman,' and an exemplary wife and mother, such as the Apostles 
speak of and commend; only to have done this, would have 
marred the entire scheme of theology and morals, as fancied and 
fashioned by the ancient Church. The perpetual inviolateness of 
the blessed virgin was well felt to be the keystone of the building." 

Fasting. This observance had been gradually removed from the 
place which it occupies in the New Testament and in the earliest 
class of Church writers, into a different sphere. New motives and 

1 Matt. xii. 46 ; John vii. 5. In this case, as in others, the plainest 
meaning of words and fullest testimony of Scripture were set at nought by the 
Church to attain her object. 


a new object gave to it a totally new character. The Church at- 
Antioch fasted as they ministered to the Lord, and again when they 
separated Saul and Barnabas for the work of the Gospel ; and Paul 
shows us how the combat in the spiritual arena is to be waged : 
11 1 buffet my body and bring it into bondage, lest by any means 
after that I have preached to others I myself should be rejected." 1 
The widely different place which this observance occupied in the 
fourth century, and the scrupulous and painful manner in which 
it was practised, 2 has been repeatedly presented in the foregoing 
biographies. "What," asks Athanasius, "does Christ require of 
thee, but a pure heart and a body unsoiled and brought down with 
fasting?" "Wouldst thou learn," writes Chrysostom, " what an 
ornament fasting is to men , what a guard and preservative ? Look 
well to the monastic tribe, blessed and admirable ! Men though 
they are, fasting makes angels of them. God, when He made man, 
instantly committed him into the hands of Fasting as to a loving 
mother entrusted with his safety. 3 If, tben, fasting were indis- 
pensable even in Paradise, how much more so out of Paradise ? " 

These maxims of Chrysostom's made, however, but a faint 
impression on the volatile people of Constantinople. "If," he- 
says, in one of his sermons, " I ask why hast thou been to the 
bath to-day? thou wilt reply, to cleanse my body in preparation 
for the Fast. And if I ask why didst thou get drunk yesterday ? 
again thou wilt reply, because I am to fast to-day." "We see," 
he says again, "nothing but people making merry, and saying to 
one another, ' Victory is ours ; Mid-Lent is over.' ... I know 
some who, in the middle of Lent, dread already the fast of the next 
year." The mass of the population indeed alternated between cere- 
monial observances and sensual excess. The Church fasts, which 
were observed with superstitious strictness, were succeeded by 
disgraceful outbreaks of debauchery. Basil gives on one occasion 
as a reason for protracting his sermon, that although it was in the 
midst of the fast, many of the congregation, as soon as the service 
was over, would fly to the gaming-table. 

The Fasts were sometimes observed with such scrupulosity that 
the Church had to interfere. Timothy, bishop of Alexandria, was 
called upon to decide the question, gravely propounded, whether a 

1 Acts xii. 2, 3 ; 1 Cor. ix. 27. 
2 The Christian anchorites performed miracles of fasting, but they scarcely 
come up to those of the Hindoo saints. In one of the Brahminical fasts the 
devotee is neither to eat nor drink for twelve days and nights. In another he 
drinks only warm water. 

8 Does this refer to Genesis ii. 16, 17 ? 


man who fasted in order to communicate, and who had by chance 
swallowed a drop of water, ought to refrain. He replied that he 
ought so much the more to communicate, because it was an artifice 
of the devil to hinder him. 1 

Almsgiving. When the fatal maxim was admitted that salvation 
is to be purchased by good works, the blessed grace of " considering 
the poor" soon lost its original savour, and was degraded into a 
matter of barter between the soul and heaven. Chrysostom asks, 
"What! hast thou not understood, from the instance of the ten 
virgins in the Gospel, how that those who, although proficients in 
virginity, yet possessed not Almsgiving, were excluded from the 
mystical banquet ? Virginity is the fire of the lamps, and alms- 
giving is the oil. As the flame unless supplied with a stream of oil 
disappears, so virginity unless it is united with Almsgiving is 
extinguished. Now who are the vendors of this oil ? The poor 
who sit for alms about the doors of the church. And for how 
much is it to be bought ? For what thou wilt, for so much as thou 
hast. Hast thou a penny ? Buy Heaven ; not indeed as if Heaven 
were cheap, but the Master is indulgent. Hast thou not even a 
penny ? Give a cup of cold water. Heaven is in the market, and 
we heed it not ! Give a crust, and take back paradise. Alms are 
the redemption of the soul. As vases of water are set at the 
church gates for washing the hands, so are beggars sitting there 
that thou mayst wash the hands of thy soul." 

Saint- Worship. The inducement which the martyrs' festivals 
offered to the heathen to join themselves to the Church, and the 
evil consequences which ensued from this compromise with idolatry, 
are fully stated in our former volume. 2 To the nominal convert, 
the substitution of the saint for the idol would make but little diffe- 
rence. The old classic mythology may be said to have been re- 
placed by a new Christian Pantheon. 3 

1 One of the charges brought against Chrysostom by the Synod of the Oak 
was " that he had eaten a lozenge after Holy Communion." See ante, p. 89. 
2 Early Church History, p. 280. 

3 The deification of the martyrs naturally excited the mockery of the heathen. 
" Instead of many gods," writes the Emperor Julian, "the Christians worship 
many wretched men." Eunapius the Sardian, one of the last of the pagan 
authors, exclaims : " These are the gods the earth now brings forth the inter- 
cessors with the gods, men called martyrs, before whose bones and skulls, pickled 
and salted, the monks kneel and prostrate themselves, besmearing themselves 
with filth and dust." In like manner the Manichasan Faustus reproves the 
Catholic Christians: " Ye have changed the idols into martyrs whom ye worship 
with the like prayers, and ye appease the shades of the dead with wine and 


. Dr. Middleton, commenting on the idolatry of modern Rome, 
invites his readers to enter the temples, and see the altars which 
were built originally by the old Romans to the honour of their 
pagan deities. " We shall hardly see any other alteration than the 
shrine of some old hero filled by the meaner statue of some modern 
saint ; nay, they have not always given themselves the trouble of 
making even this change, but have been content sometimes to take 
up with the old image, just as they found it, after baptizing it only, 
as it were, or consecrating it anew, by the imposition of a Christian 
name. This their antiquaries do not scruple to put strangers in 
mind of, in showing their churches ; and it was, I think, in that of 
St. Agnes, where they showed me an antique statue of a young 
Bacchus, which, with a new name, and some little change of 
drapery, stands now worshipped as a female saint. The noblest 
heathen temple," he continues, " now remaining in the world, is 
the Pantheon, which, as the inscription over the portico informs us, 
having been impiously dedicated of old by Agrippa to Jove and all 
the gods, was piously re-consecrated by Pope Boniface IV. 1 to the 
blessed Virgin and all the saints. With this single alteration it 
serves as exactly for the Popish as it did for the pagan worship for 
which it was built. For as in the old temple every one might find 
the god of his country, and address himself to that deity whose 
religion he was most devoted to, so it is now ; every one chooses 
the patron whom he likes best ; and one may see here different ser- 
vices going on at the same time at different altars, with distinct 
congregations around them, just as the inclinations of the people 
lead them to the worship of this or that particular saint." 

We have seen how profound in the time of Cyprian was the 
veneration for the victorious confessors. 2 This feeling gathered 
rather than lost strength after the Diocletian persecution, and 
working on the natural tendency of mankind to deify its benefactors 
and heroes, ended in a universal worship of the saints. Possibly, 
also, the controversies respecting the Trinity and the nature of 
Christ may have tended indirectly towards the same result. Al- 
though his human nature was in theory as clearly asserted as his 
divine, yet it was not dwelt upon in the same emphatic manner, and 
people began to seek out, or eagerly to turn towards, other beings 
who were supposed to be in closer sympathy with man. These they 
found in the martyrs. The spirits of the martyrs were believed to 
hover about their tombs, or even, as Jerome pretended, to be 

a.d. 608615. 
2 Early Church History, p. 165. 


ubiquitous, and prayers were addressed to them as intercessors 
with God. 

Another preparation for saint-worship may perhaps be found in 
the semi- divine honours which were paid to the Roman Emperors, 
and which produced a thraldom of the mind extremely favourable 
to superstitious notions. 

Prayers, thanksgivings, vows, and offerings were everywhere 
made to the saints. And as in the older mythology there were 
tutelary gods, to whom the guardianship of special nations and 
cities, trades and conditions of life, were assigned, so now every 
country and place, every order and profession of men came to have 
its patron saint. 1 

The Fathers of the age were leaders in the very fore-front of this 
superstition. A few specimens out of many, taken from their 
writings, will suffice. Basil, in an oration delivered on the "birth- 
day " of one of the martyrs, thus appeals to the bystanders : "As 
many of you as in this place have been assisted by him in prayer, 
as many as he has brought back into the right way, as many as he 
has restored to health, or who have had their dead children recalled 
to life, be ye mindful of the martyr." Again, on the festival of the 
Forty Martyrs : " Behold a fountain of blessing, a refuge prepared 
for the Christian ! A church of martyrs ! Often hast thou laboured 
to find one who might intercede for thee. Lo! here are forty, 
emitting one voice of prayer. The wretcb bowed down with 
anguish flees to them. 0, indissoluble band! Guardians of 
mankind ! " 

1 Thus James became the patron of Spain ; George the Martyr, about whose 
identity and even existence there has been a voluminous controversy, the 
guardian saint of England. John was the patron of theologians; Luke of 
painters ; Anthony was venerated as a protector against pestilence ; Apollonia 
against toothache. To Phocas, a gardener at Sinope (through some strange 
freak of the genius of superstition), was especially entrusted the care of 
mariners, the ancient office of Castor and Pollux. At the daily meals on ship- 
board, it was customary to assign him a ration, as to an invisible guest, the pro- 
ceeds of the sale of such ration being distributed among the poor as a thank- 
offering for a prosperous voyage. Calendars of the saints were commenced in 
the fourth century ; and as the number of martyrs exceeded that of the days of 
the year, many festivals often fell on the same day. The Lives of the Saints 
(Acta Sanctorum) are contained in sixty-three folio volumes. This colossal 
work, which was commenced (or rather sketched) by Eosweyd, before the close 
of the sixteenth century, was continued by the Bollandists in the seventeenth 
and eighteenth, and is still in progress. When Eosweyd's prospectus, which 
contemplated only seventeen volumes, was shown to Cardinal Bellarmine, he 
asked, " What is the man's age ? " " Perhaps forty," was the answer. " Does 
he," asked the Cardinal, " expect to live 200 years? " 


Gregory Nazianzen thus invokes Athanasius, in the oration 
delivered after his death : " Look down propitiously upon us, and 
govern this people, who are perfect adorers of the perfect Trinity. 
If peace should come, preserve me and feed my flock with me ; but 
if war, take me home and place me beside thyself and those who are 
like thee." 

Gregory Nyssen does not come behind either his friend or his 
brother. Thus he speaks of the martyr Theodorus. "Last year 
he quieted the savage tempest, and put a stop to the horrid war of 
the fierce Syrians. If any one is permitted to carry away the dust 
with which his tomb is covered, it is to be laid up as a thing of 
great price. Theodorus, we want many blessings ; intercede for 
thy country, with the common King. If there be need of more 
intercession and deprecation, call together the choir of thy brethren 
the martyrs. Exhort Peter, excite Paul and John the beloved 
disciple, that they may be solicitous for the Churches which they 
have founded, that the worship of idols may not lift up its head 
against us, that heresies may not spring up like thorns in the vine- 
yard ; but that by the power of thy prayer, and of the prayers of 
thy companions, the commonwealth of Christians may become a 
field of corn." 

After reading such rhapsodies we may well exclaim with Bishop 
Hooper, " What intolerable blasphemy of God, and ethnical idolatry 
is this ! " And these things were not done in a corner. On the 
occasion of Gregory's oration, the birthday of Theodorus, the 
people streamed to the shrine in such multitudes, that he could 
compare it to nothing but an ant-hill. 

As was to be expected, the fervid imagination of Chrysostom 
carries him even beyond his brethren. " Let us in this fire of love 
fall down before the relics of the saints ! Great boldness had they 
when living, but much more now that they are dead ; for now they 
bear the stigmata x of Christ, and when they show these, they can 
obtain all things of the King. wonderful pyre ! What a treasure 
does it hold ! That dust and those ashes, more precious than gold 
or jewels, more fragrant than any perfume." Some relics of the 
"Egyptian Martyrs" were transported from Alexandria to Constan- 
stinople : the city poured itself out to welcome the landing of the 
inestimable treasure, and to accompany it to the sacred shrine where 
it was to be deposited in gold and marble. The voice of the 
preacher is lifted up: "Now is our city more securely defended 

1 Marks of the wounds in the body of Jesus; hence, generally, marks oi 


than by ramparts of adamant ; now is it walled about with lofty 
rocks on this side and on that. For tbese ashes of the saints repel 
not merely the assaults of visible enemies, or exclude merely 
sensible evils, but even the machinations of invisible demons, con- 
founding all the stratagems of the devil ; and this they do with as 
much ease as a strong man sweeps down a child's playthings." 
Nevertheless Chrysostom, when the evangelical mind was uppermost 
in him, could say: "A great man can be reached only through 
porters and parasites, but God is invoked without the intervention 
of any one, without money, without cost of any kind." x 

As time goes on, the shades of error deepen. Sulpicius Severus, 
in his eulogy of Martin of Tours, after lamenting the heavy burden 
of his own sins, exclaims : " There is a hope, however, left, our sole 
and last hope, that what we cannot obtain of ourselves we may at 
least merit by Martin's intercession." And Prudentius thus 
addresses St. Agnes : 

" blessed virgin ! new glory ! 
Noble inhabitant of the celestial height 1 
Incline thy face with double diadem 
To behold our vile impurities ; 

To whom it has been given by the Universal Parent 
To render pure even the vault of heaven itself. 
I shall be cleansed by the brightness 
Of thy countenance, easy of propitiation, 
If thou wilt fill my heart. 

All is pure which thou pious one deems worthy to look upon, 
Or to touch with thy bounteous feet." 2 

Augustine, more enlightened, laboured to explain away or to- 
excuse the worship paid to the saints ; but his disclaimer is contra- 
dicted by facts, and his pleas are unwarranted by Scripture. " We 
do venerate the memory of the martyrs, and this is done both to 
excite us to imitate them, and to obtain a share in their merits and 
the assistance of their prayers. But it is not to any martyr that 
we build altars, but to the God of the martyrs. No one ever says, 
We bring an offering to thee, Peter, Paul, or Cyprian ! Our 
emotions are intensified by the associations of the place, and love 
is excited both towards those who are our examples, and towards 
Him by whose help we may follow such examples. We regard the 
martyrs with the same affection that we feel towards holy men of 
God in this life ; only there is more devotion in our sentiment 

1 Dr. Pusey observes : " Through volumes of St. Augustine and St. Chrysos- 
tom there is no mention of any reliance except on Christ alone." 

2 Sulpicius died about a.d. 420 ; Prudentius flourished about 405. 


towards them, because we know that their conflict is over, and we 
can speak with greater confidence in praise of those who are already 
victors in heaven than of those who are still combating here. That 
which is properly divine worship, which the Greeks call latria, and 
for which there is no word in Latin, we give only to God. To this 
worship belongs the offering of sacrifices, as we see in the word 
idolatry, which means the rendering of this worship to idols. Ac- 
cordingly we never offer sacrifice to a martyr, or to a holy soul, or 
to an angel. Any one falling into this error is instructed either in 
the way of correction or of caution." 

Relics. It is not easy for us in this Protestant age and country 
to comprehend the high value set upon relics, especially from the 
time when the Empress Helena made the "discovery of the true 
Cross." No church was complete without the possession of these 
treasures ; no altar was looked upon as truly sanctified, except a 
bone of one of the Apostles, or the ashes of some distinguished 
martyr, or a splinter of the Cross itself, was enshrined within it. 1 
The passion for relics finds a place in all the great writers. Ambrose 
is seeking the remains of a predecessor who was banished to Cap- 
padocia ; Basil is able to send him the coveted treasure, affirming 
with great emphasis the genuineness of the article. The devout 
sons of the West made pious journeys eastward in quest of the 
much coveted relics, and not unfrequently the cunning Greeks, 
who received their genuine coin, sent them home laden with 
spurious merchandise. Later, as Pope Gregory the Great tells us, 
Greek monks came to Rome to dig up common bones near St. 
Paul's church for sale in the East as holy relics. Imperial legis- 
lation and the decrees of councils were equally powerless to check 
this profitable traffic. " Let no one," so runs a law of Theodosius 
in 386, "remove a buried body; let no one carry away or sell a 
martyr." Individuals, no less than churches, coveted the posses- 
sion of these jewels. We may remember how, so early as the year 
811, the lady Lucilla kept by her the bone of a martyr to kiss 
before she partook of the Bread and Wine. 2 This mania soon 
became universal. Scarcely any one ventured to go about unpro- 
vided with such a talisman. Chrysostom speaks of particles of the 
True Cross being set in gold and suspended about the necks both of 
men and women. 

The epoch we are now reviewing was the very age of wonders 
and legends. Speaking of Butler's Lives of the Saints, which he 

1 The second Council of Nicsea (a.d. 787) decreed that the presence of relics 
vwas indispensable to an altar. Canon 7. 

2 Early Church History, p. 222. 


terms " the fairy-land of unbounded credulity," Isaac Taylor says : 
" Let any one open the volume at hazard and, without looking at 
the dates, select a few [narratives] which appear the most ridi- 
culously absurd or on any account peculiarly offensive, and I will 
venture to predict that they will turn out to be Nicene and not 
Popish stories. In fact, they will be found to be translations from 
Athanasius, Basil, Palladius, Jerome, or some of their contem- 
poraries. On the contrary, any lives that may appear to be less 
objectionable, and in a sense edifying, will be those of modern 
Komanist saints." 

Monachism. We come now to the peculiar feature of the age : 
the Monastic Life. In the former volume we touched upon the 
origin of the anchorite's cell and its gradual development into the 
monastery. 1 The period we are now reviewing saw the new in- 
stitution spread from Egypt and Syria over all the provinces of the 
Empire, absorbing into itself the best life of the Church. It will 
be worth while to examine more closely the features of this singular 

Monachism did not spring out of the gospel. Its essential idea 
has not only nothing in common with New Testament doctrine ; it 
is repugnant to its whole spirit and object. We must go back for 
the origin of asceticism to an antiquity greater than even Greek 
philosophy can show, and to countries beyond the Ganges. The 
elder form of Hindoo superstition, Brahminism, was Pantheistic. 
It proposed to man, as the highest good, absorption into the uni- 
versal God ; and the means by which this felicity was to be 
obtained were seclusion from society, mental abstraction, and the 
mortification of the body even to suicide. The great Brahminical 
code, the Laws of Menu, written a thousand years before the 
Christian era, lays down the following rules for the man who would 
attain perfection : " Let him retire from the world, and gain the 
favour of the gods by fasting, subduing the lusts of the flesh and 
mortifying the senses. Let him crawl backwards and forwards on 
his belly ; or let him stand all the day on his toes. At sunrise,, 
noon, and sunset let him go to the water and bathe. 2 In the heat 
of summer let him kindle five fires about him ; when it rains let 
him bare himself to the storm ; in winter let him wrap himself in 
a wet garment. So let him rise by degrees in the strength of his 
penances." What have we here but the very type and pattern of 
the fourth-century asceticism ? 

1 See Early Church History, Pt. ii. c. xvii. 
2 This observance puts to shame the Christian devotees. 


In the sixth century b.o., or earlier, the Buddhist reformation 
took place, by which Nihilism was substituted for Pantheism, and 
the world not so much despised as bewailed for its emptiness. Less 
fanatical than the original creed, it yet united self-mortification 
^with contemplation and prayer. The monastery now took the 
place of the cave or cell, and convents both for men and women 
were spread over Eastern Asia. The two governing principles of 
Hindoo philosophy, whether Buddhist or Brahminical, are, first, 
that matter is essentially evil ; and secondly, that happiness con- 
sists in exemption from all the affections and influences which 
spring from matter, in other words, in profound, imperturbable 
repose, the soul being occupied only with the ceaseless contem- 
plation of the Divine Essence from which it is derived. 

11 Considering the misery that originates in affection, let the man 
wander alone like a rhinoceros. So long as the love of man toward 
woman is not destroyed, so long is his mind in bondage. He who 
has no desire for this world or the next, and who after leaving 
human attachment has overcome divine attachment, he is indeed 
to be called a Brahman. As a man might with loathing shake off 
a corpse bound upon his shoulders, so let me, leaving this perish- 
able body, this collection of many foul vapours (as men deposit 
filth upon a dung-heap), depart, regretting nothing, wanting nothing. 
The 'Four Besources' of a religious life are (1) morsels of food 
received in alms ; (2) for clothing, rags taken from a dust-heap ; 
(3), for shelter, to dwell at the root of a tree ; (4) for medicine, the 
four kinds of filth dung, urine, ashes and clay." 

Both these doctrines found their way into the Christian Church. 
With the most famous of the Anchorites, who were held up as the 
great objects of imitation, the body, instead of being cherished as 
God's creation, was contemned as " a machine for producing sin, a 
loathsome prison of the spirit." 1 "All earthly things which can 

1 Dorotheus, an Egyptian monk, never gave way to sleep of his own will. It 
sometimes happened that, utterly overcome with lassitude, he would fall down 
on his mat. Then he would be sorely grieved, and say in an undertone, "You 
could as easily persuade angels to sleep as men of the true watchful spirit." He 
was once asked, " Why do you kill your body in this way?" He answered, 
" Because my body kills me." Another, an aged man named Benjamin, being 
Afflicted with dropsy, requested those who came to visit him to pray for his 
soul. " I care little," he said, "for my body ; for when it was well it did me no 
good, and now that it is sick it can do me no harm." 

Eusebius, a Syrian monk, employed another to read to him from the Gospels. 
His attention being drawn off by some men ploughing in the neighbouring field, 
it was necessary to read the passage a second time. To punish himself for his 
inattention, he fastened an iron girdle round his loins, riveted a heavy collar to 


afford pleasure to the senses were shunned as a snare. Cities are 
vil, human society is evil, green fields, shady woods, refreshing 
streams, balmy breezes, gay and fragrant flowers, the music of 
speech and the music of nature, all that is sweet to human sense, 
is poison to the soul. Impressed with this false and miserable 
estimate of his Maker's works, the Christian seeker after perfection, 
like the Brahminical, fled into the desert, where amid arid sands 
and naked rocks, noisome beasts and reptiles, and the fiery sun 
overhead, he spent his days in punishing his body, fighting with 
demons, praying to God and dreaming of heaven. It was imagined, 
moreover, that the more of earthly good the soul renounces and 
sacrifices for the sake of heaven, the more of heaven's felicity will 
God bestow upon it." 

The Buddhist monasteries, thus originating many centuries 
before the Christian, have continued to flourish down to this day. 
They bear a strong resemblance to those of the Romish church. 
Their vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience, their common meals, 
readings and religious exercises, correspond so closely with those of 
the Latin convent, that the Romish missionaries to the East in the 
seventeenth century were utterly bewildered, and could only sup- 
pose that Satan had devised a counterfeit of the true devotion on 
purpose to plague them. Thus, Borri, one of their number, says : 
" There are so many priests and monks in that country (Cochin 
China) that it looks as if the devil had sought to represent among 
the heathen the beauty and variety of our orders. Some are clad 
in white, some in black, some in blue and other colours. Some 
profess poverty, living on alms ; others occupy themselves in works 
of mercy. The priests wear chaplets and strings of beads round 
their necks, and make so many processions in prayer to their false 
gods that they outdo the Christians." 

The preceding biographies furnish ample evidence that the 
monastic profession numbered within its ranks some on whom the 
choicest gifts of the head and of the heart had been conferred. 
Doubtless, under the rough cloak and girdle were to be found 
thousands of sincere and even intelligent Christians, who, although 
in the darkness of the times they had mistaken the way, yet had 
their citizenship in heaven. 1 But for the most part the monks 

his neck, and by a chain drew the two together, so that his head was bent down 
and he could not look up. This he called foiling Satan by a stratagem. He also 
made a vow never to tread any path but the narrow one which led from the 
monastery to the church. 

1 The number of persons of both sexes who during this period devoted them- 
selves to the monastic life was prodigious. Palladius speaks of 3000, 5000, 


were a fanatical, illiterate race. Many were unable to read ; the 
ignorance which would have been despised in the "secular" clergy,, 
was in them admired as a token of sanctity. They were in con- 
sequence easily aroused ; their partisanship was violent ; they de- 
nounced every deviation from their own narrow creed and notions 
as the work of the devil. Beginning, moreover, with seclusion and 
separation from the world, they came to play the busiest part in all 
its transactions. " Strange contradiction of the human mind!" 
writes Montesquieu ; " the ministers of religion amongst the ancient 
Eomans, not being excluded from the duties of civil society, bur- 
dened themselves but little with its affairs. And when the Christian 
religion was first established, the ecclesiastics who were more separ- 
ated from worldly affairs mingled in them with moderation. But 
in the fall of the Empire, the monks, bound by a more exclusive 
profession to flee and even to fear business, embraced every occa- 
sion of meddling with it. They ceased not to make confusion 
everywhere, and to stir up that world which they had left. No state 
matter, no peace, no war, no truce, no negotiation, no marriage 
was managed without the help of the monks ; the councils of the 
prince were full of them, and the national assemblies almost en- 
tirely composed of them." 

Commencing with vows of poverty, the monks soon began to 
acquire property and even wealth. Jerome says : " Some, when 
they have renounced the world, increase rather than diminish their 
estates, and amongst crowds of guests and swarms of servants,. 
claim the title of solitaries. Some clericals possess a degree of 
wealth under the poor Christ, which they did not possess under 
that rich knave the devil." So John Cassianus : " We, living in 
common under an abbot, carry about our private keys, and wear on 
our fingers the rings with which we seal up our stores. Not boxes 
and baskets, not even chests and store-rooms suffice to hold the 
things we have collected, or which we received when we left the 

Much has been said, not by Boman Catholic writers only, in 
praise of Monachism, and we cannot doubt that God has made use 
of this institution to subserve his beneficent designs. By means of 
the monasteries, at some epochs, the wilderness has been reclaimed, 
the arts of industry have been taught to rude nations, learning has 

or even 10,000 monks as being associated under the rule of a single anchoret 
or abbot ; and 10,000 nuns are mentioned as belonging to the religious houses 
of one city. Nearly 100,000 of all classes were to be found at one time in 


been preserved, a sanctuary provided from rapine and bloodshed, 
and a fountain opened from which spiritual life and knowledge 
flowed around. But all this does not prove that the institution was 
Christian or right ; it only shows that which we see continually, 
that God overrules man's devious methods for the purposes of his 
own love and goodness. The Israelites did evil when they clamoured 
for a king, yet the monarchy was made use of in perfecting the 
divine scheme of man's redemption. It was no real extenuation of 
the cruel sin of Joseph's brethren, in selling him into Egypt, that 
he said to them, long afterwards, " Be not grieved that ye sold me 
hither, for it was not you who sent me but God." 

Milman has portrayed in eloquent language the evil and the 
good of the monastic life. " It is impossible," he says, " to survey 
Monachism in its general influence, from the earliest period of its 
interworking into Christianity, without being astonished and per- 
plexed with its diametrically opposite effects. Here, it is the 
undoubted parent of the blindest ignorance and the most ferocious 
bigotry, sometimes of the most debasing licentiousness ; there, the 
guardian of learning, the author of civilization, the propagator of 
humble and peaceful religion. To the dominant spirit of Monachism 
may be ascribed some part at least of the gross superstition and 
moral inefficiency of the church in the Byzantine Empire; to the 
same spirit much of the salutary authority of Western Christianity, 
its constant aggressions on barbarism, and its connection with the 
Latin literature. . . . Nothing can be conceived more apparently 
opposed to the designs of the God of nature, and to the mild and 
beneficent spirit of Christianity; nothing more hostile to the 
dignity, the interests, the happiness, and the intellectual and 
moral perfection of man, than the monk afflicting himself with 
unnecessary pain, and thrilling his soul with causeless fears ; 
confined to a dull routine of religious duties, jealously watching, 
and proscribing every emotion of pleasure as a sin against the 
benevolent Deity; dreading knowledge, as an impious departure 
from the becoming humility of man. On the other hand, what 
generous or lofty mind can refuse to acknowledge the grandeur of 
that superiority to all the cares and passions of mortality; the 
felicity of that state which is removed far above the fears or the 
necessities of life ; that sole passion of admiration and love of the 
Deity, which no doubt was attained by some of the purer and more 
imaginative enthusiasts of the cell or the cloister ? Who, still 
more, will dare to depreciate that heroism of Christian benevolence, 
which underwent this self-denial of the lawful enjoyments and 
domestic charities of which it had neither extinguished the desire, 



nor subdued the regret not from the slavish fear of displeasing the 
Deity, or the selfish ambition of personal perfection but from the 
genuine desire of advancing the temporal and eternal improvement 
of mankind ; of imparting the moral amelioration and spiritual 
hopes of Christianity to the wretched and the barbarous ; of being 
the messengers of Christian faith, and the ministers of Christian 
charity to the heathen, whether in creed or in character ? " 

We cannot wholly subscribe to these latter sentiments. It is true 
that the only genuine heroism in the world is the heroism of Christian 
self-denial for the sake of our fellow-men ; and it is shameful when 
those who spend their lives in self-indulgence, forgetful of God and 
man, affect to despise a simplicity of life, a scorn of ease or a pro- 
digality of unselfish labour, which they can neither imitate nor 
appreciate. But it can hardly be too much emphasized that the 
praise which our author is disposed to accord is due to the motives 
only of those who embraced the ascetic life. We would acknowledge 
in many the excellence of their motive, but we deplore the error of 
their method. It cannot be said that the cloister is necessary to 
any of the objects set forth, least of all to the work of the Christian 

Isaac Taylor takes a different view. He wrote at a time when, as 
now, a deluge of semi-popery threatened to submerge our country. 
11 Christianity was just about to work its proper effect upon the 
Roman world, when the ascetic fanaticism came in ; first to poison 
the domestic system at the core by its hypocritical prudery, and its 
consequent separation of the sexes ; and, secondly, to turn off the 
fertilising current of the most powerful sentiments from the field 
of common life, and to throw them all into the waste-pipe which 
emptied itself upon the wilderness. The mighty waters of Christian 
moral influence, which should have renovated the Roman world and 
have saved the barbarism of a thousand years, were by the ascetic 
institute shed over the horrid sands of Egypt and Arabia there to 
be lost for ever. . . . Southern Europe was left for another cycle 
of centuries, and monkish fanaticism, with its celibacy and its 
fastings, has continued now these fifteen hundred years to be the 
grim antithesis of a widespread dissoluteness of manners." 

Enough has been said regarding monkish austerities, but there 
is one type of self -mortification as yet unmentioned, which confirms 
in a striking manner the comparison already made between the 
Indian fakir and the Christian devotee. We mean the Pillar 

The first and most celebrated of these was Simeon Stylites, born 
about a.d. 390. The account of him which has been handed down 


is as follows. When a youth he entered a monastery near Antioeh, 
where his austerities were so excessive that the abbot begged him 
to depart, lest the emulation he caused should be dangerous to the 
weaker brethren. He accordingly withdrew to a place about forty 
miles from the city, where he lived for ten years in a sort of narrow 
pen. Afterwards he built a pillar and took up his dwelling on the 
top of it, which was only about a yard in diameter. He removed 
successively from one pillar to another, always increasing the height, 
until at last it reached to sixty feet. In this manner of life he spent 
thirty-seven years. Day and night he professed to be continually in 
prayer, spreading forth his hands and bending so low that his fore- 
head touched his feet. At three o'clock in the afternoon he addressed 
the admiring crowd below, heard and answered their questions, sent 
messages and wrote letters, for he corresponded with bishops and 
even Emperors. He took only one scanty meal a week and fasted 
altogether throughout Lent ; he wore a long sheepskin robe and a 
cap of the same ; his neck was loaded with an iron chain. 

Simeon is said to have converted thousands of Arabs, Armenians, 
Persians, and heretics ; but the conversion seems to have consisted 
in their being immersed in water and paying divine honour to the 
saint and his pillar, rather than in any change of spirit or manner 
of life. At Simeon's death his cowl descended to another monk 
named Daniel, whose mastery over his body, miracles, and sanctity 
rivalled those of his predecessor. The two saints found many 
imitators in the East, but this absurd fashion never got a footing 
in Europe. 1 

The Church and the World. The Fathers of the fourth and 
fifth centuries were not blind to the moral condition into which 
the Church had sunk in their day. "The Church," writes 
Chrysostom, "is like a woman fallen from her ancient prosperity, 
who possesses various signs of her former wealth, and displays the 
little chests and caskets in which her treasure was preserved, but 
who has lost the treasure itself." Basil likens her to " a ship 
driven about by the fiercest storms, whilst the crew are quarrelling 
amongst themselves ; " and "to an old garment which tears 
wherever you touch it, and which it is impossible to restore to its 
primitive strength and soundness." 

1 Simeon's pillar was gradually built round with chapels and monasteries, and 
the figure of the saint as a protecting genius was set up at the doors of the shops 
in Eome. A German fanatic built himself a similar pillar near Treves, and essayed 
to live upon it, after the manner of Simeon, but the neighbouring bishops pulled 
it down. 


By this time, indeed, the distinction between Pagan and Christians 
had become nominal rather than real. The vile manners of the- 
heathen were still maintained by those who called themselves- 
Christians. Children were by needy parents exposed to perish, 
boys were sold as slaves for their fathers' debts. Christian parents 
betook themselves to magicians when their children were sick, and 
expected a cure to be wrought by hanging a talisman about their 
necks. The conversation of the market-places was filthy. 

The theatre was frequented alike by Christians and heathens, and 
was, as in the days of Tertullian, 1 the very hotbed of vice. Chrysostom 
calls it "the seat of pestilence, the gymnasium of incontinence; and 
a school of luxury, Satan being its author and architect ; " and after 
many unheeded warnings declares he will no longer admit play- 
goers to the Lord's Supper. By the force of custom, sights were 
tolerated there which would have been endured nowhere else. Even 
the celebration of the Eucharist and other rites of the Church were 
profanely represented. 2 

The circus evoked the indignation of Chrysostom even more than 
the theatre. " The indomitable passion for the chariot-races, and 
the silly eagerness displayed about them by the inhabitants of Borne, 
Constantinople, and Antioch, are among the most remarkable 
symptoms of the depraved state of society under the later Empire. 
The whole populace was divided into factions, distinguished by the 
different colours adopted by the charioteers, of which green and 
blue were the chief favourites. The animosity, the sanguinary 
tumults, the superstitions, folly, violence of every kind, which were 
mixed up with these popular amusements well deserved the 
unsparing severity with which they were lashed by the great 
preacher. ' You applaud my words, and then hurry off to the 
circus, and sitting side by side with Jew or Pagan, clap your hands- 
with frenzied eagerness at the efforts of the charioteers. You plead 
business, poverty, want of health, lameness as excuses for absence 
from church, but these hindrances never prevent your attendance 
at the hippodrome.' " 

Salvian, a presbyter of Marseilles, and a writer of uncommon 
elegance, has left us a forcible description of the corrupt state of 
the Church in the fifth century. The biting language in which he 
declaims is the very counterpart of that in which Cyprian speaks 

1 See Early Church History, p. 115. 
2 "We Christians," complains Gregory Nazianzen, "are brought upon the 
stage, and made subjects for vulgar laughter in company with the most profligate 
of men. Nay, there is hardly any gratification so popular as a Christian exposed 
to mockery and insult in a comedy." 

salvian's pictube of the age. 181 

of the heathen world. 1 " What," he asks, " what but fraud and 
perjury is the course of life of the merchants ? What but iniquity 
-that of those attached to halls and courts ? What but false accu- 
sation that of officials ? What but rapine that of all the military ? 
You will say, surely the nobility are free from crime. Not so ; for 
who is there, whether among the noble or among the rich (and it 
is one of the miseries of these times that none is accounted so noble 
&s he who has amassed the greatest wealth), who is there that 
shudders at crime ? I am wrong. Many shudder at crimes ; they 
are shocked at the vices of others, whilst they themselves practise 
the same. They execrate openly what they perpetrate secretly. 
^ . . A very few excepted, what else is almost every assembly of 
Christians but a sink of vices ? You will more easily find the man 
who is guilty of all crimes than him who is guilty of none. But it 
is the laity only, you will say, who sin at this rate, surely not the 
clergy. Alas ! under colour of religion, men who after a course of 
profligacy inscribed themselves with a saintly title, have changed 
their profession only, not their life. They have put off the garment 
only, not the mind of their former condition. These men well know 
that what I am saying is true, their own consciences bear witness 
to every word. . . . The entire mass of the priests is so sunk into 
this depravity that it has come to be regarded as a species of sanctity 
for one to be a little less vicious than the rest. Inasmuch as 
scarcely any corner is not blotted with the stain of mortal sin, 
what room have we to flatter ourselves with our name ? ... It 
will, to many, sound insufferable if I should affirm that we are 
inferior to the barbarians, who are either heretics (Arians) or 
pagans. But what if it be so ? As to life and conduct, I grieve 
to say we are worse. ... Ye Romans and Christians and Catholics, 
ye defraud your brethren, grind the faces of the poor, fritter away 
your lives over the impure and heathenish spectacles of the amphi- 
theatre, wallow in licentiousness and inebriety. The barbarians, 
however fierce towards us, are just and fair in their dealings with 
one another ; the impurities of the theatre are unknown amongst 
them ; many of their tribes are free from the taint of drunkenness ; 
and amongst all, except the Alans and the Huns, chastity is the 

Whatever truth there may be in Salvian's verdict regarding the 
priesthood, there must have been very many, in all parts of the 
ompire, who still adorned the profession of the Christian minister. 
In support of this opinion we may adduce the unequivocal testimony 
of an outsider, the heathen historian Ammianus Marcellinus. He 

1 See Early Church History, pp. 6 - 8. 


has been relating the sanguinary contest between Damasus and; 
Ursicinus for the possession of the Koman See, 1 and thus con- 
cludes : "I do not deny, when I consider the pomp and display of 
the episcopal office in this city, that they who covet such rank are 
justified in striving with all their might to attain the object of their 
desires. For when they have gained it, they come into a state of 
perfect ease and luxury ; the offerings of matrons are showered 
upon them ; they ride in chariots, dress with splendour, and feast 
with even more than royal extravagance. They might be equally 
happy if, instead, they were to live like some of the provincial 
bishops, whom rigid abstinence, simplicity of dress, and an humble 
demeanour commend to the Eternal Deity and his true worshippers 
as pure and sober-minded men." 



From the galaxy of illustrious names on which we have been gazing,, 
we turn to that small cluster of obscure men who strove to call 
back the Church to Apostolic simplicity and truth. The need of 
reform had become more and more pressing, but the great leaders 
and teachers of the age had failed to perform their duty ; neverthe- 
less the truth was not left wholly without witnesses. 

The name of Aerius was introduced into our former work 2 earlier 
than in the exact order of time. He flourished about the middle of 
the fourth century, and may be regarded as the first Protestant 
after the Council of Nicsea. His teaching on many points an- 
ticipated in a remarkable degree that of the most enlightened 
Protestants of the Eeformation. 

Jovinian. Little is known of the personal history of this monk. 
As in the case of Aerius, his own writings have perished, his- 
opinions having come down to us only through his opponents, 
Jerome and Augustine. He received his education in an Italian 
convent, 8 but his bold and free spirit refused to be shackled by the 
dead forms which surrounded him, and about a.d. 888 he began to 
enunciate sounder and more spiritual principles. Especially he 

1 See ante, p. 27, note. 

2 See Early Church History, p. 310. 

3 Cave says he lived some years in Ambrose's monastery at Milan. 


denied the superior merit of celibacy ;* and as just then the popular 
feeling, consequent on the death of Blesilla, 2 was running against 
Jerome and Monachism, he made many converts, not only of the 
laity, but also of monks and nuns ; and many of both sexes were 
induced to marry. 

A friend of Jerome's, Pammachius, the husband of Paula's 
daughter, was one of the first to take alarm at the new heresy. 
He brought Jovinian's book to the notice of Siricius, the Eoman 
bishop, a blind upholder of celibacy. 3 A synod was convened, 
a.d. 390, and Jovinian and eight of his adherents were summarily 
condemned and excommunicated. Jovinian betook himself to Milan, 
but if he expected to meet with indulgence either from the Emperor 
Theodosius or the bishop Ambrose, he was grievously disappointed. 
Siricius had been beforehand with him, and had sent three presbyters 
with a letter of warning addressed to the Milanese Church ; and 
Ambrose hastened to show himself in complete accord with the 
Roman synod. In conjunction with eight other bishops, he en- 
dorsed the sentence of excommunication, and in a letter to Siricius 
stated that the Emperor also execrated the impiety of the Jovinian- 
ists, and that all at Milan who had seen the heretics shunned them 
like a pestilence. He stigmatizes Jovinian's opinion that there 
was no difference of merit between the married and the unmarried 
as "a savage howling of ferocious wolves scaring the flock." The 
matter did not end here. For, long after, in 412, we find the 
Emperor Honorius issuing the following edict: "Some bishops 
having complained that Jovinian assembles sacrilegious meetings 
without the walls of the most holy city, We ordain that the said 
Jovinian be seized and whipped, together with his abettors and 
followers, and that he be immediately banished to the Island 
of Boa." 4 

1 He controverted the perpetual virginity of Mary, a point which was then 
becoming an article of faith in the Church. 

2 See ante, p. 115. 

3 See ante, p. 116, note. Siricius decreed by letter that if any bishop, priest, 
or deacon should marry, he should not look for pardon, " because it is necessary 
to cut off with the knife those sores which cannot be cured by other remedies." 
This was the first Decretal, the first of the Letters of the Bishop of Eome which 
became a rule to the Western Church, and thus laid the foundation of the vast 
system of ecclesiastical law. 

4 Boa was a rock near the DJyrian coast. Some historians have thought that 
the Edict of Honorius was not directed against our monk, but against another 
heretic of the same name. For this opinion two reasons are assigned, the one 
that Jovinian, as appears by Jerome, died so early as 406; the other that no 
such complaint as that on which the edict is founded was brought against him 



Whilst the merit of the ascetic life was being re-echoed from side 
to side, and charity was estimated and sins graduated by the out- 
ward act, Jovinian stood forth and proclaimed the true doctrine of 
faith. " There is but one Divine element of life which all believers 
share in common; but one fellowship with Christ which proceeds 
from faith in Him; but one new birth. All who possess this, all 
who are Christians in the true sense, have the same calling, the 
same dignity, the same heavenly blessings. . . . The labourers of 
the first, the third, the sixth, the ninth, and the eleventh hour 
received each alike one penny ; and that you may wonder the more, 
the payment begins with those who had laboured the shortest time 
in the vineyard. . . . Virgins, widows and married women who 
have been once baptized into Christ, if their works are right, have 
equal merit. ... It amounts to the same thing, whether a man 
abstain from food, or partake of it with thanksgiving." But when 
he goes on to say that there are no half-ripe members in the 
Church, no progression in the spiritual life, we cannot follow him ; 
nor when he declares that he who is once baptized cannot be over- 
come by temptation, and that if any are so overcome it is a proof 
that they have never received the true baptism. In opposition to 
the division of sins into mortal and venial (the former only being 
held to exclude from eternal life), Jovinian took his stand on high 
and solid ground. He maintained that the Gospel requires and 
confers a new holy disposition, to which every sin of every kind 
stands directly opposed, so that all sin, whatever outward appear- 
ance it may have, proceeds from the same corrupt fountain, and 
manifests the same ungodly life. 1 

The publication of Jovinian's book excited, as has been said, 
considerable attention in Eome. It also aroused the wrath of 
Jerome in his cell at Bethlehem, and without delay he set to work 
to extinguish the heretic. " The tone of his reply is that of a man 
suddenly arrested in his triumphant career by some utterly un- 
expected opposition ; his resentment at being thus crossed is 
mingled with a kind of wonder that men should exist who could 
entertain such strange and daring tenets. The length, it might be 
said the prolixity, to which he draws out his answer, seems rather 
the outpouring of his wrath and his learning, than as if he con- 

at the synod. The latter objection is of little weight ; with regard to the 
former, Tillemont suggests that the date of the edict may be erroneous. More- 
over, it is not probable there were two Jovinians ; if there were, we have one 
reformer the more, or at least one more instance of a willingness to suffer for 
conscience' sake. 

1 Jovinian also opposed the excessive veneration for the act of martyrdom. 


sidered it necessary to refute such obvious errors." He calls 
Jovinian's protest against the supposed merit of asceticism, "the 
hissings of the old serpent, by which the dragon expelled man from 
Paradise." x So violent was his language that on his reply being sent 
i;o Eome, Pammachius and others of his friends attempted to sup- 
press it ; but Jerome told them the book had been too much circulated 
to be recalled. Augustine, who was also opposed to Jovinian, 
was alarmed at the extravagant terms in which Jerome had extolled 
celibacy, and deprecated marriage; and to counteract the effect of 
his tract, wrote a treatise for the purpose of restoring marriage to 
its true position ; although, as was to be expected, he ascribes a 
still higher degree of the Christian life to the unmarried state, when 
it is chosen from the right motives. "In this tract," observes 
Neander, " Augustine distinguishes himself, not only by his greater 
moderation, but also by a more correct judgment of the ascetic life 
in its connection with the whole Christian temper. Like Jovinian, 
he opposed the tendency to set a value upon the outward con- 
duct, upon the mere opus operation, without regard to its relation to 
the disposition of the heart. By giving prominence to the latter, 
Augustine approached Jovinian, and he would have come still 
nearer to him, had he not been on so many sides fettered by the 
Church spirit of the times." 

The names of two other witnesses of Jovinian's age and country, 
if not actually his disciples, have also come down to us, Sarmatio 
and Barbatianus, both of them monks in Ambrose's cloister at 
Milan. They disputed the benefit of asceticism and the peculiar 
merit of the unmarried life. Not being suffered to utter their 
opinions in the cloister, they renounced their vows, 2 and removed 
to Vercelli, where they hoped to be able to teach their doctrines 
unmolested. But Ambrose put the Church in that city on its 
guard against the heretics. Of the further history of these men we 
have no account. 

Thus persecuted by the bishops, written down by the greatest 
doctors of the age, outlawed by synods, detested by the whole body 
of the clergy, Jovinian and his adherents were soon forgotten. But 
though the mouths of the witnesses were closed, the truths they pro- 

1 We take no notice of the charge of gluttony brought by Jerome against 
Jovinian. It is probable it had no other ground than that on which the 
Pharisees rested their accusation against our Lord : " The Son of Man is come 
ating and drinking ; and ye say : Behold, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, 
a friend of publicans and sinners." 

2 The monastic vow was not then irrevocable ; it was first so made by Bene- 
dict of Nursia, a.d. 529. 


claimed were not so easily destroyed. They presently sprang up 
again in a new quarter. 

Vigilantius was born about a.d. 364, at Calagorris, a mansio or 
posting- station, forty-five miles south-west of Toulouse. His 
father, a descendant of the robbers whom Pompey drove out of 
Spain, 1 was the innkeeper of the place, and made his fortune by 
supplying post-horses and refreshment to travellers. 2 Vigilantius 
assisted him, and it was probably his business to wait on the 
travellers, drive the cars and act as guide across the Pyrenean 

The ecclesiastical writer Sulpicius Severus, with whom we have 
already met in the life of Martin of Tours, resided at a villa between 
Toulouse and Narbonne, and possessed estates on both sides of the 
Pyrenees. His way from one to the other lay through Calagorris,. 
and the young man attracting his notice, he took him into his ser- 
vice. Here Vigilantius would meet with the best society of which 
Gaul could boast, and would hear the news of the Christian world 
retailed, and theological questions discussed. Sulpicius, besides 
his charity towards the sick and poor, and his care for the 
maintenance of public and family worship, was occupied in 
preparing an abridgment of the Holy Scriptures. But in this- 
reasonable and exemplary manner of life he seems to have been 
disturbed by bishop Martin of Tours, who persuaded him tbat his 
benevolent and pious actions were of no value without the practice 
of austerities. Sulpicius hearkened only too credulously. To what 
an extent he carried his self-humiliation we see by a letter from his 
friend Paulinus of Nola. " Thy domestics tell me thou art poor in 
the midst of wealth, and art living in a state of self-imposed bondage, 
treating tby servants as thy companions, and thy brethren as thy 
masters. In fact, that thou art a perfect servant of God, the enemy 
of riches, the living copy of the holy Martin, an entirely obedient 
follower of the Gospel." 

In 394 Vigilantius and a companion were sent by Sulpicius to 
Nola to visit Paulinus. The reader of our former volume is already 
acquainted with this enthusiast, who so greatly delighted in hi& 
noon-day illuminations ; 8 but in view of the protest which Vigilan- 

1 These robbers belonged to the Spanish village of Calagorris, and when they 
arrived in Gaul they gave the same name to their new settlement. 

2 The posting system was under the direction of the State, and officials or 
government messengers were carried along at the rate of upwards of eight miles 
an hour in four-wheeled carriages or light two-wheeled cars, drawn by horses or 

s See Early Church History, p. 272. 


tius was soon to raise against the superstitions of the age it may be 
well to acquaint ourselves more closely with what must have come 
under his notice at Nola. The fame of Paulinus was in all the 
churches. He held a correspondence with Augustine, by whom he 
was addressed in a style of warm friendship, reverence, and even 
flattery ; and his influence was so great that he was able to set at 
nought the displeasure of the Roman bishop Siricius. 1 

Paulinus had fitted up his villa, which stood close to the tomb of 
his patron saint Felix, 2 as a monastery and a house of reception for 
strangers. Ample pleasure grounds which had been adorned with 
fountains, statues and flowerbeds, were transformed into an orchard 
and a cabbage garden. During Vigilantius' visit, his host began to 
rebuild the church. The pavement and walls were laid in marble, 
and on the ceiling of the dome there were wrought in mosaic em- 
blematical representations of the Trinity and the evangelists. 8 
Under the cupola stood the high altar, enshrining ashes of the 
Apostles, relics of martyrs, and a splinter of the "true Cross." The 
lofty nave was flanked by aisles, and beyond these were four chapels 
for private devotion and the burial-places of the faithful. From 
the church you passed by three latticed arcades to the mausoleum 
of St. Felix, and from this again in the same manner to his oratory. 
The building when completed, surmounted as it was by three 
cupolas and encompassed with walls, had almost the appearance of 
a little town. 4 

When all was finished, processions were formed, the relics of the 
saint were displayed, clouds of incense rose, and lights were burned 
before the tomb, whilst votive offerings were presented by the 
multitude, who cried aloud, " Hear us, holy Felix ! blessed Felix ! " 
A festival which took place in honour of the saint whilst Vigilantius 

1 Paulinus was meant for better things. "Eigorous abstinence, periodical 
fastings, night watchings, coarse vestments, the accumulation of bones and rags 
of saints, and especially the hourly prostrations at the shrine of St. Felix, ab- 
sorbed all the capacities of a mind once distinguished by the graces and refine- 
ments of the scholar, the poet and the rhetorician." 

2 A legendary confessor in the Decian persecution, whose life was said to have 
been miraculously preserved. 

3 This is the first mention in the West of allegorical figures or historical 
pictures in churches. In the East they are spoken of by Gregory Nyssen a 
generation earlier. 

* In imitation of Paulinus, Sulpicius in Gaul built two basilicas, with a 
baptistery between them, on the walls of which were painted likenesses of 
Martin and of Paulinus himself. Paulinus is popularly said to have been the 
inventor of church bells. It is clear that some sonorous instrument (signum)' 
was first employed about this time to call Christians to worship. 


was at Nola is described in almost the very words of Prudentius' 
rhapsody over the pilgrimage to the shrine of Hippolytus in the 
Roman catacombs. 1 Paulinus himself was somewhat shocked with 
the prodigal consumption of wine on this occasion, although he is 
.a,t first inclined to regard the excess with indulgence. " Would 
they could offer up their vows of joy with more sobriety, and not be 
quaffing cups of wine within the sacred precincts ! Yet I think 
some allowance may be made for those who indulge a little in these 
festivals, since rude minds are liable to error, and simple piety is 
scarcely conscious of the faults it commits." But the sight of an 
inebriate provokes his wrath : " Thou hast now reason to dread 
Felix ; thou art insulting him by thy drunkenness ; wretched 
creature, thou art making him the witness and the avenger of thy 
revels. I have thought it right," he continues, " to have the walls 
of the sanctuary decorated with paintings, that in the sacred his- 
tory, and the pious examples held up to their view, the rustics may 
forget their wine and become sober." 

The rule of the monastery was severe. Paulinus tells us of one 
of the brotherhood who, after he had been some time at Nola, was 
much altered; his body grew lean and his face pale; and adds, "He 
rarely drinks at table, and in such small quantities as is scarcely 
sufficient to wet his lips, but he does not now complain of an empty 
stomach or a dry throat." The cloister cooks leaving, one after 
another, Sulpicius sent to Paulinus " brother Victor," who proved 
a rare treasure to his new master. " His dishes," says Paulinus, 
*' are of a kind to destroy the fancies and delicacies of a senator. 
He thoroughly understands how to dress beans, to make vinegar 
from beetroot, and to prepare coarse broth for hungry monks. 
More than this, he seasons his meagre porridge with such salt of 
grace and such sweetness of cbarity, that the want of material con- 
diments is not felt." 2 

1 Early Church History, p. 277. 
2 The monks of the West fell short of the Oriental standard in the discipline 
of the body as well as in the power of abstraction. In one of Sulpicius' dia- 
logues, himself and Gallus (a disciple of Martin of Tours), being present, 
Postumian, the pilgrim, relates how the ship he sailed in was almost driven on 
the quicksands (Syrtes), and how, just escaping, he and his companions went 
.ashore to explore the desert country of the African coast. They saw before them 
a hut shaped like the keel of a ship, and an aged hermit clad in sheepskins and 
.turning a hand-mill. Finding they were Christians, the old man received them 
lovingly, and invited them to join in prayer. "'Laying some skins on the 
ground for us to recline upon, he set before us a plentiful dinner, half a barley 
loaf and a handful of a sweet herb. There were four of us and he the fifth. We 
made a hearty meal.' At this word Sulpicius smiled and said to Gallus, 'How 


Cleanliness and becoming attire were as little regarded at Nola as 
the delicacies of the table. "Give me," exclaims Paulinus, "the 
society of those who wear hair-cloth shirts, and whose loins are- 
girdled with a rope. I cannot do with those insolent persons who 
pride themselves on their well-dressed hair : give me those who for 
the sake of holy deformity, wear it short and badly cut, such as live 
in honourable neglect of the niceties of life, who despise personal 
beauty, and purposely disfigure themselves, that their hearts may 
be clean." 

We must not, however, pass over a redeeming element in the 
monastic life at Nola, which so long as it remained served as a bulwark, 
against corruption and decay. This was the study of Holy Scrip- 
ture, a pursuit to which Paulinus devoted himself as ardently as- 
Sulpicius. The difficulties which the Biblical student of that time 
had to surmount, were such as in our day can scarcely be imagined.. 
Books were all in manuscript and took up much room. It was a 
rare thing to possess the whole Bible in one volume. Origen, 
Eusebius, and Jerome had introduced into the Scriptures certain, 
divisions, but these fell very short of the chapters and verses which, 
we now possess ; and headings of chapters, marginal notes, indexes 
and concordances were unknown. Paulinus was considered so good 
a textuarian, that Augustine consulted him, and submitted some of 
his writings to his correction. The study of the Holy Scriptures 
by the side of the semi-heathen rites practised at Nola, although it 
failed to open the eyes of a Sulpicius or a Paulinus, may have been 
to the more free and inquiring mind of Vigilantius, as a lamp^ 
shining in darkness. 

On the death of his father in 395, Vigilantius returned for a short 
time to Calagorris, whence he again set out on a journey to Pales- 
tine and Egypt. Kevisiting Nola on the way, he was furnished by 
Paulinus with a letter of introduction to Jerome at Bethlehem. 
The great recluse received him courteously, and took him to the 
sacred places, " crossing himself at every step." As Vigilantius 

wouldst thou like to dine on a handful of herbs and half a loaf for five men ? ' 
Gallus blushed and answered : ' Thou art at thy old tricks, Sulpicius, letting 
slip no opportunity of taxing us Gauls with voracity ; but it is cruel to expect 
us to live like angels, though for myself I can believe that the angels eat too. 
As to that half of a barley loaf, I should think it a poor mouthful for myself 
alone, but that meagre Cyrenian might be well content with it ; for hunger 
belongs to him either by necessity or by nature. Nor do I wonder that half- 
starved and weather-beaten mariners should think it a good dinner ; but for our 
part, we are far from the sea, in a plentiful country ; and what is more, as L 
have often told thee, we are Gauls.' " 


appears to have made his visit only three years after Jerome had 
crushed Jovinian, it is not very unlikely that the opinions of that 
reformer formed a topic of conversation between them. Another 
topic was furnished by the Origen controversy, which was then 
going on, and which seems to have occasioned some interruption to 
their friendly intercourse. From Bethlehem Vigilantius proceeded 
to Jerusalem, where he appears to have spent some time with 
Jerome's opponent, Eufinus, and when on his way home he repeated 
his visit to Jerome, the suspicious nature and ill-humour of the 
latter burst forth, and Vigilantius quitted Bethlehem abruptly. On 
his way back to Gaul he tarried a while in Alexandria, whence, 
proceeding to the shores of Italy, he made his way home by 
the Cottian Alps. 1 Wherever he went he seems to have spoken 
freely of Jerome and his opinions, and to have found many sympa- 

The recollection of their quarrel rankled in Jerome's mind, and 
when he heard of the manner in which his late visitor had occupied 
himself on his journey he vented his spleen in a stinging epistle 
(a.d. 398). " It would have been just had I given thee no satis- 
faction by letter, since thou hast given no credence to thy own ears. 
But since Christ has given us in Himself an example of perfect 
humility by kissing his betrayer, I intimate to thee in thy absence 
the same things which I told thee when present. . . . Thou hast 
left Egypt and all the provinces where so many defend thy opinions 
with effrontery ; and hast selected me as an object of persecution, 
me who reprehend all doctrines contrary to the Church and pub- 
licly condemn them. So Origen is a heretic ! What is that to me, 
who do not deny that in many points he is a heretic ? If I did not 
daily anathematize his errors, I should be a partaker of them. . . . 
I as a Christian, speaking to thee as a Christian, beseech thee 
brother not to aim at being wise above thy knowledge. From thy 
childhood thou hast learned another trade, thou hast been used to 
another kind of training. It is not for the same man to examine 
both gold coins and the Scriptures, both to sip wines and to under- 
stand the Apostles and Prophets. . . . Call to mind I pray thee 
the time when I descanted on the true resurrection of the body, 
how thou leaped aside, clapped thy hands and stamped thy feet, 
proclaiming that I was orthodox. But when thou got out to sea, 
the offensive odour of tbe bilge-water struck into thy brain, and 
thou remembered that I was a heretic. I gave credence to the 

1 Some have connected this journey over the Cottian Alps with the early 
Protestantism which manifested itself in the valleys of Dauphine and Piedmont, 
but without, as it seems, sufficient ground. 


letters of the holy presbyter Paulinus, not imagining that his judg- 
ment of thee could be erroneous ; and although I noticed that thy 
conversation was unpolished, I set it down to rusticity and simpli- 
city rather than to folly. . . . Thy name must have been given 
thee by antiphrasis, for thy whole mind slumbers as in a lethargy. 
Thy tongue ought to be cut out and torn to shreds." 

Several years may have elapsed before Vigilantius put forth the 
treatise which has made his name honourable, and which drew 
down upon him a still more severe infliction of Jerome's wrath. As 
soon as it was published, information of the writer's audacity in 
attacking the ruling follies of the age was sent to Jerome by Eipa- 
rius, a priest of the diocese of Toulouse. It drew forth (a.d. 404) 
a characteristic reply. 

"Thou sayest," writes Jerome, "that Vigilantius (he should 
rather be called Dormitantius) is again opening his foul mouth, and 
is casting forth the most villainous filth against the relics of the 
holy martyrs, styling us who receive them 'cinder-gatherers and 
idolaters,' because we venerate the bones of dead men. ... I am 
surprised that the holy bishop 1 in whose diocese he is said to be a 
presbyter, should wink at such madness, and should not with his 
apostolic rod of iron, dash in pieces the worthless vessel, and de- 
liver him for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be 
saved. ... If the relics of the martyrs are not to be honoured, how 
is it that we read Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of 
his saints ' ? If their bones pollute those who touch them, how 
was it that Elisha when dead raised to life the dead man ? Were 
all the camps of the Israelitish host unclean because they carried 
the bodies of Joseph and the patriarchs in the wilderness ? And did 
they carry unclean ashes into the Holy Land ? . . . This tongue 
should be cut off by the surgeons, or rather this mad head should 
be cured, that he who knows not how to speak may learn some- 
times to keep silence. I once saw this marvel and wished to bind 
the madman with Scripture testimonies ; but he went off, he de- 
parted, he escaped, he burst away, and has railed against us between 
the billows of the Adriatic and the Cottian Alps. ... I could have 
wished to say more did not the brevity of a letter impose on me the 
obligation to silence, and hadst thou thought it expedient to send 
me his doggerel books that I might know what I ought to answer. 
At present I am beating the air, and give proof rather of my own 
orthodoxy than of his heterodoxy which is manifest to all men. 
But if thou wishest that I should write a longer book against him, 

1 Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse. 


send me his dirges and drivellings, that he may hear John the 
Baptist announcing, ' Now also the axe is laid unto the root of the 
tree ; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is 
hewn down and cast into the fire.'" 

In accordance with this letter, Kiparius, and another priest, 
Desiderius, sent a copy of Yigilantius' tract to Jerome, and with it 
a formal charge against the reformer. They represented that the 
whole neighbourhood was in commotion, and that their own people 
were infected by the blasphemous doctrines of the heretic. The 
infuriated monk immediately set to work, and in one night forged 
the engine which was to " crush the serpent." This was in the 
year 406. 1 

Vigilantius' treatise is known only through Jerome's answer. It 
is plain, however, tbat in his protest against the abuses of the 
times, Vigilantius takes a wider range than his predecessor Jovinian 
had done. We have seen that he denied the tombs of the martyrs 
to be the proper objects of veneration. He calls their relics a heap 
of ashes and wretched bones, and asks of what use it is to honour 
and adore and even kiss dust folded up in a linen cloth ? He de- 
rides the prodigies said to be wrought in the churches of the 
martyrs, and condemns the vigils performed in them, asserting, as 
Tertullian and Lactantius had done before him, 2 that the practice 
of burning tapers by daylight came from the heathen. " How," 
he asks, " could men think of honouring by the light of miserable 
wax candles, those martyrs on whom the Lamb in the midst of 
God's throne is shedding all the brightness of his majesty ?" 

In his answer Jerome does not deny that these practices were 
borrowed from the pagans, but asserts that the same homage, which 
is to be detested when offered to idols, is to be approved when 
offered to martyrs. He maintains, further, that Christians are far 
from intending to pay to creatures the honour which is due to the 
Creator alone ; that their devotion sees in what Vigilantius de- 
scribes as " wretched bones," something of much greater worth; 
that they venerate in the tomb nothing which is dead, but through 
it look up to the saints alive with God, who is in truth not the God 
of the dead but of the living. In defending the vigils, he could 
not deny that they often served both as a pretext and an occasion 
for gross immoralities. To the objection advanced against the 
lighted tapers, he could only answer that, even though the laity or 

1 Jerome tells us that he wrote his answer " in a single night," because the 
brother who was to take the letter could not tarry longer. 
2 See Early Church History, p. 271. 


pious women might be mistaken in supposing the martyrs to be so 
honoured, yet we are bound to respect such pious feelings, though 
they may err in the mode of expression. But the conclusive argu- 
ment on which he relies is, universal authority. " Was the Em- 
peror Constantius," he asks, " guilty of sacrilege, who transported 
the holy relics of Andrew, Luke and Timothy to Constantinople, 
before which the devils (such devils as inhabit Vigilantius) roar, 
and are confounded ? Or the Emperor Arcadius, who translated 
the bones of the blessed Samuel from Juda3a into Thrace ? Are all 
the bishops not only sacrilegious but infatuated, who carried this 
worthless trash and these loose cinders in silk and gold ; and all 
the people gathered together from Palestine even to Chalcedon, who 
met them, and received them as if it were the living prophet ? Is 
the bishop of Eome sacrilegious, who offers sacrifice on the altar 
under which are the venerable bones (the vile dust would Vigilantius 
say ?) of Peter and Paul ; and not the bishop of one city alone, but 
the bishops of all the cities of the world, who enter the church 
of the dead in which this most worthless dust and ashes are de- 
posited ?" 

Vigilantius also denied the efficacy of prayers addressed to de- 
parted saints. " According to the Holy Scriptures," he says, 
" only the living pray for one another ; the martyrs moreover can- 
not be everywhere present, to hear men's prayers and to succour 
them. The souls of the Apostles and martyrs have settled them- 
selves either in Abraham's bosom, or in a place of refreshment, or 
under the altar of God ; and they cannot escape and present them- 
selves where they please. Do they so love their ashes as to hover 
always round them, lest if any suppliant should happen to draw 
near they might not hear him ?" These opinions may be fanciful,, 
but Jerome's reply is no better founded. " If the Apostles and 
martyrs in this earthly life, before they had yet come safely out of 
the conflict, were able to pray for others, how much more can they 
do so, now that they have obtained the victory ! and seeing it is 
asserted of them that they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes, 
and the Lamb is everywhere present, we must believe that the 
faithful are in spirit everywhere with Christ." 

Vigilantius spoke lightly of fasting and mortification, and the 
various austerities of the monks, and even of the hermit life itself. 
" Should all retire from the world and live in deserts, who would 
remain to uphold the public worship of God ? Who would exhort 
sinners to virtue ? This would not be to fight, but to fly." Espe- 
cially he denied the merit of virginity, and that celibacy is incum- 
bent on the clergy. It is evident that his teaching had made some 


converts among the higher clergy, for Jerome declaims against 
some bishops, who (evidently because they feared the pernicious 
consequences of a constrained celibacy) would ordain no others as 
deacons, but those who were married. 

Another point on which Vigilantius sought to bring men back to 
Scripture and common sense, was that of the right stewardship of 
earthly possessions. He showed that those who managed their 
own property themselves, and distributed their incomes prudently 
amongst the poor, did better than those who gave away the whole 
at once ; and that it was a more Christian act for a man to provide 
for the poor of his own neighbourhood, than to send his money to 
Jerusalem for the support of the monks in that city who lived on 
charity. On these as on some other points, Jerome has nothing to 
oppose but flimsy sophistry. What he lacks in reason, however, 
he makes np in abuse. " Many monsters have been born into the 
world, centaurs and satyrs, owls and bitterns, Cerberus, the chimera 
and the many-headed hydra, and the three-formed Geryon. Gaul 
alone has had no monsters, but has always abounded in brave and 
eloquent men. Suddenly Vigilantius has arisen, who, in his un- 
clean spirit, fights against the spirit of Christ." 

From this time we almost lose sight of the reformer. According 
to some, the bishop Exuperius, who refused in the first instance to 
take part against Vigilantius, and was even said to favour him, was 
eventually induced by the invectives of Jerome, and the influence of 
Innocent I. of Rome, to have him banished from Aquitaine. One 
historian records that he served a church in Barcelona, and this 
may well agree with the statement just related. It is thought that 
he may have perished about the year 409, in that great hurricane 
of the Northern barbarians, which after desolating Gaul, broke 
over the Spanish peninsula, and converted it into a desert. 

The Catholic worthies whose lives we have endeavoured to por- 
tray are the men to whom the Romanists of the present day, and 
many who bear the name of Protestant, look up, as to the Fathers 
of the Church ; and the century in which they flourished is regarded 
as its golden age. No constellation of luminaries so bright and so 
numerous is to be met with again until we come to the Reforma- 
tion. At the same time how far all these celebrated churchmen 
were, as individuals, true Witnesses for Christ, is a question on which 
there may well be a difference of opinion. Few of the readers of 
this volume are likely to follow Cardinal Newman in the reasons he 
gives for honouring Jerome : " I do not scruple to say, that were 
he not a saint, there are words and ideas in his writings from which 
I should shrink ; but as he is a saint, I shrink with greater reason 


from putting myself in opposition, even in minor matters and points 
.of detail, to one who has the infallibility of the Church pledged to 
his saintly perfection. I cannot, indeed, force myself to approve or 
like these particulars on my private judgment or feeling ; but I can 
receive things on faith against both the one and the other. And I 
readily and heartily do take on faith these characteristics, words, 
or acts of this great Doctor of the Universal Church ; and I think 
it is not less acceptable to God or to him to give him my religious 
homage than my human praise." 1 To argue in this manner is to 
impose on one's self a slavery worse than that of Egypt. Many of 
our readers will agree with Newman in his private opinion regarding 
Jerome, and some will perhaps go further, disposed, like Isaac 
Taylor, to challenge the claim of that extraordinary man to any 
place at all amongst the true Witnesses for Christ. 

It is clear that these renowned Fathers of the Church have not 
earned our gratitude in some essential matters. They found the 
.episcopal authority already inordinately great ; they left it absolute. 
They found the system of celibacy and monkery and the worship of 
saints and relics a young and sturdy plant ; they left it a mighty 
tree overshadowing the whole land. They found the Church half 
resolved to employ force in compelling men's consciences ; they left 
her fully embarked on this fatal course. Down to their time, 
schismatics (not to say heretics) were regarded with some measure 
<of charity, and treated with some show of consideration ; but after 
the time of Augustine all this has vanished ; it is, " Eecant, or die ; 
return to the bosom of Holy Mother Church, or perish like a male- 
factor." Such from this time forward was the only alternative. 
At the same time the dogma of one Catholic Church, beyond the 
pale of which there is no salvation, became fixed and universal. 

In passing judgment however upon the Church teachers and 
rulers of this age we must bear in mind that men are to be weighed 
in the balance of their own times, and not in that of any other. 
The degree of light which prevailed in their day must always be 
taken into account. The fourth and fifth centuries formed an age 
not only of rank superstition, but of profound moral corruption. 
The social and political sores went on festering until they became 
intolerable, and had to be cut out by the swords of the barbarians. 

In estimating, on the other hand, the motives and characters of 
the Eeformers, Aerius, Jovinian, Vigilantius, two important con- 
siderations present themselves. They are men almost unknown to 
history. Scorned and proscribed by nearly the whole Church, no 

1 These views are sufficiently refuted by Jerome's own words, quoted above. 
See p. 129. 


friendly biographer has traced their course or drawn their portrait ;; 
or if this was done, envy and bigotry have effectually effaced the 
record. And as the story of their life has perished, so it is with 
their writings ; these have either been designedly destroyed or have 
become buried in oblivion. Not a fragment of all that proceeded 
from the pens of these three Witnesses has come down to us, except. 
in the quotations made from their books by those who undertook to 
refute them. 1 No man, it is needless to say, would ever consent to 
be judged on the evidence of extracts from his writings made by an 
adversary. The meaning of quoted words may be greatly modified, 
or even neutralised, by the unquoted context. Other writings of 
the same author, or other chapters not referred to, may set his 
object or his motive in a totally different light, and in the place of 
distrust, awaken sympathy and admiration. Lastly, the extracts 
themselves may be garbled. And if all this is true as a general 
rule, it is emphatically so when the antagonist is a Jerome. Hence 
we draw our estimate of the character of these reformers from 
slender materials. We know not how far they possessed that true 
spirit of love and faith which is able to disarm or to rise above the 
persecution of man. We do know that they saw clearly some 
things in respect of which the eyes of the leading churchmen of the 
age were blinded. 

If the warning voice raised by these just men had been heeded, 
and the Church had happily retraced her steps out of the labyrinth 
of error into which she had wandered, with what affection would 
their names have been embalmed ! Their writings would have 
been preserved with as much care as those of Athanasius or Chry- 
sostom, and we might have constructed biographies of them as 
worthy of our attention and even as full of incident as those of the 
champions of orthodoxy. But if their known actions are fairly 
weighed and duly considered, they will be found to deserve the title 
of Christian heroes. The whole Christian world was rapidly 
sinking into an easy and fatal slumber. They lifted up their voices 
to utter the warning cry. They were almost alone; they could 
hope for no inspiriting echo from any other quarter. The courage 
of Chrysostom has been much extolled when he ventured from the 
fastness of his pulpit to attack the Empress Eudoxia ; and of Basil 
and Ambrose, when they confronted Valens and his minister and 
the Emperor Theodosius, with a spirit as haughty as their own ; 
but the breach into which Jovinian and Vigilantius threw them- 

1 The monks were the only librarians of the Middle Ages, and they admitted 
none but orthodox books. Thus the works of such writers as Vigilantius ani 
Jovinian, even if not purposely destroyed, would soon disappear. 


selves was one of far greater danger and for a far nobler prize. If 
any men ever played a part which should entitle them to the grati- 
tude of posterity, surely it was these. And carefully must we note 
that, although their opponents, in order to weaken their influence, 
seek in every way to blacken their memory, yet no tangible accusa- 
tion is made against them, either as to the honesty of their motives 
or the moral character of their life. 1 

1 The opinion of the candid historian, Du Pin, lends support to the above. 
"It is a misfortune that Jovinian's and Vigilantius' books are lost; and there 
is reason to believe from those other disputes wherein St. Jerome was engaged, 
that if we knew what they said for themselves, instead of thinking them heretics, 
we should esteem them illustrious defenders of the Christian religion against 
that superstition, which an immoderate zeal for a monastical life did at that 
time introduce into the Church. . . . Since obstinacy is necessary to make a 
man a heretic, it would be rashness to call Jovinian a heretic, of whom we know 
nothing but what we have from his enemies." 



( 201 ) 


The Nestorian Strife. 

That long conflict of tongues and pens, and not unfrequently of 
swords also, which commenced with the Nestorian Controversy, has 
special claims on our attention. Not only does its record form a 
faithful mirror of the age, fraught with instructive lessons, but the 
contest itself powerfully hastened, if it did not actually produce, 
that vital decay of the Eastern Churches which rendered them an 
easy prey to the hosts of Islam. 

The Arian controversy turned on the question of our Lord's 
proper deity ; the Nestorian on that of the two natures in Him, the 
human and the divine. The problems on which the Eastern Church 
of the fifth and sixth centuries wasted her energy may be regarded 
&s insoluble ; and it is not always easy even to follow the subtle 
arguments of the disputants. But the narrative is curious ; and if 
the reader has any faith still remaining in the purity of the ancient 
Church, or in the efficacy of Church councils, it will be severely 
tried before he has followed the story to its end. 

Two schools of thought stand opposed to each other, the Alexan- 
drian, and the Antiochian or Syrian. At Alexandria, where the 
enemy to be combated was the Arian denial of Christ's eternal 
Godhead, his divinity was insisted upon at the expense of his 
humanity, so that it was customary to say, " God was born, suffered, 
and redeemed us with his blood ; " and the favourite appellation of 
the Virgin Mary (whose worship was just coming into vogue) was 
that of Theo-tokos (bearer or mother of God). 1 At the head of this 
school was Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, who seems to have regarded 
the Incarnation almost as a new entity, which is in every relation 
God and man in one. The Antiochian school, on the contrary, 
having to contend against the heresy of Apollinaris, 2 who taught 
that in Christ the human body was united with an animal soul only 
(the place of the rational soul being supplied by the Divine Logos 8 ), 

1 The phrase is used by Athanasius. 
2 Bishop of Laodicea, died 392 ; see ante, p. 44. 
8 Christ was thus made a middle being, between God and man. Apollinaris 
regarded the orthodox view of a union of full humanity with full divinity in one 
person of two wholes in one whole as an absurdity. 



took an opposite direction. This school, distinguished for sound 
learning and sobriety of interpretation, but with a tendency towards 
rationalism, was founded by Diodorus of Tarsus 1 and Theodore of 
Mopsuestia. 2 In its scheme the divine and human nature were held 
so rigidly apart as to make Christ, though not professedly, yet 
virtually, a double person. The effect was to weaken the cardinal 
truths of his sufferings, death and resurrection, and thus impair the 
reality of his work of redemption. To this school belonged 
Nestorius, who however held its doctrine in a more modified form 
than his friend and teacher Theodore. In the course of the struggle 
a third standard was raised by the monk Eutyches of Constanti- 
nople, who, whilst he aimed at supporting Cyril and the Alexandrian 
party, created a fresh schism by going still further, and teaching 
that there is only one nature in Christ, the divine. 

If it is difficult at the beginning of the contest accurately to mark 
out the relative position and front of the combatants, it is still 
more so to follow the hostile banners through the shifting scenes of 
this fiercely contested field. " Never was there a case," observes 
Milman, "in which the contending parties approximated so closely. 
Both appealed to the Nicene Creed ; both admitted the pre-exist- 
ence, the impassibility of the Eternal Word ; but the fatal duty 
which the Christians in that age, and unhappily in subsequent 
ages, have imposed upon themselves, of considering the detection 
of heresy the first of religious obligations, mingled as it now was 
with human passions and interests, made the breach irreparable." 
" The real differences between the combatants on either side," 
remarks Roberts, "in the maintenance of the dogmas of Eutyches 
and Nestorius, were often undiscernible amidst the dust and smoke 
of the combat; and the sharpest feeling of hostility in either party 
arose out of their mistakes of each other's meaning." 

Nestorius succeeded to the episcopal chair of Constantinople, 
a.d. 428. 3 He began his rule as an ardent Catholic. On the fifth 
day after his ordination he endeavoured to deprive the Arians of 
their church : they burned it down in despair. " Give me," he 
cried in his inaugural discourse before the Emperor Theodosius II., 
" the earth purged of heretics, and in exchange I will give thee 
heaven. Help me to destroy the heretics, and I will help thee to 
conquer the Persians." All the while however he held private 

Died a.d. 394. 
3 He was bishop from 393 428 ; see ante, p. 73. 
3 He is described as " simple in dress, grave in demeanour, pale and meagre 
with ascetic observances, and of surpassing eloquence." 

the term Theotokos. 203 

opinions which he refrained from openly avowing. The challenge 
came from his presbyter Anastasius, who said in public : " Let no 
man style Mary Mother of God (Theotokos), for Mary was human, 
and it is impossible that God should be born of humanity." This 
was followed up by a bishop of Mcesia who was visiting Constanti- 
nople, and who in one of his sermons cried out : " Let him be 
accursed who calls Mary Mother of God.'" 

Upon this a violent agitation arose in the city, not only amongst 
the clergy, but amongst all classes of tbe people. It was as if the 
denial of the name Theotokos had robbed mankind of tbe hope of 
salvation. The general feeling found its utterance through Euse- 
bius, afterwards bishop of Dorylasum in Phrygia, and also through 
Proclus, who had been an unsuccessful candidate for the see of 
Constantinople. One day when Nestorius was preaching, the 
former stood up in full church, and in contradiction of the bishop, 
asserted that the " Eternal Word begotten before the ages had sub- 
mitted to be born a second time." And Proclus, in a sermon, 
accused Nestorius and his party of believing only in a deified man, 
and of detracting from the honour of Mary. Nestorius was not- 
slow to retort : he compared his adversaries to the pagans who gave 
mothers to their gods. Nevertheless, he declared that if any of the 
simple-minded were disposed to call the Virgin Mary Theotokos, he 
would not quarrel with them, provided they did not convert her 
into a goddess ; but he proposed instead the safer and more 
Scriptural term Christo-tokos (the mother of Christ), inasmuch as 
the name Christ belongs to the whole person, uniting the divine 
and tbe human natures. 1 

. This did not satisfy his opponents. A large party of the clergy 
and monks refused to recognize him any longer as their bishop, or 
even to hold Church fellowship with him ; and a placard was 
affixed to the walls of the principal church, probably by Eusebius, 
exhibiting a parallel between his tenets and those of the heretical 
Paul of Samosata, whose name was still a by-word in the Church. 
Once also when Nestorius was about to preach, a monk placed him- 
self in the way, refusing to let him enter because it was forbidden 
to a heretic to teach in the churches. His enemies even threatened 
to throw him into the sea. In retaliation Nestorius made free uso 
of deposition, whipping, banishment, and other forcible means 
against such as were amenable to his jurisdiction. 

Cyril was watching events from Alexandria. His first act in 

1 As Nestorius justly points out, the Scriptures nowhere teach that God, but 
everywhere that Jesus Christ, the son of God, was born of Mary. 


opposition to Nestorius was to publish a homily, for the Easter 
festival, on the union of deity and humanity in Christ, and after- 
wards to address to the Egyptian monks a long admonitory letter 
-on the same subject. In both these documents he vindicated the 
title Theotokos, and sounded an alarm against the disturbers of 
orthodoxy. An unfriendly correspondence ensued between himself 
vand Nestorius. But the latter, notwithstanding the arrogant speech 
with which he commenced his rule, and the intolerant and violent 
acts of which he had been guilty, seems to have been a sincere 
man, desirous of doing what he believed to be right. When there- 
fore a good presbyter named Lampon proffered his friendly offices 
between the two disputants, Nestorius readily accepted his media- 
tion, and sent Cyril a short conciliatory letter which closed the 
correspondence. "Lampon's gentleness," he wrote, "has con- 
quered me. Nothing is more powerful than Christian gentleness. 
When I see such a spirit in any one I am seized with fear ; it is as 
though God dwelt in him." 

But Cyril was too envious of the Byzantine see, and too full of 
ill-will against his rival, to lay aside his hostility. He intrigued 
with the clergy at Constantinople ; and when Nestorius proposed 
that the matters in dispute should be referred to a general council, 
he wrote to Celestine bishop of Borne, sending him a garbled report 
of the doctrines taught by Nestorius, and craftily leaving it to his 
decision whether the offender ought not to be deprived of the 
fellowship of the Church. Nestorius likewise sent Celestine an 
account of the controversy, but in this letter, instead of conceding 
to the bishop of Borne any jurisdiction over the Churches, he 
addressed him, as Chrysostom had done, simply as an equal. 
Celestine, as was to be expected, espoused the cause of Cyril. He 
pronounced Nestorius guilty of heresy, and directed that unless he 
should within ten days present a written recantation of his errors, 
and testify his agreement with the Boman and Alexandrian 
Churches on the birth of Christ, he should be degraded and 
excommunicated. At the same time in a letter to Cyril, full of 
extravagant praises, he gave to that bishop " by the sovereign 
authority of the Apostolic See," power to carry the sentence into 
execution. The copy of the decree which he sent to Nestorius was 
accompanied by vehement reproaches. 

Thus armed, Cyril called upon Nestorius to recant, and at the 
same time sent him a creed or body of doctrine set forth in twelve 
formulas of Anathema, which he required him to subscribe. This 
step had the effect of converting the personal dispute between 
himself and Nestorius into a rupture with the Antiochian Church. 


The Syrian bishops, many of them men of learning and piety, were 
indignant at Cyril's conduct ; and their leader John, the patriarch 
of Antioch, selected Theodoret 1 to draw up an answer to the Ana- 
themas. In his answer, however, Theodoret unhappily showed 
himself more eager to confute Cyril than to discover and set forth 
Scriptural truth. He did not consider, controversialists seldom 
consider, that victory at the expense of truth is not victory, but 

Meanwhile the messengers of Celestine and Cyril presented their 
demands to Nestorius. Conscious of right, and of his independent 
dignity, the bishop treated their message with disdain. At the 
Imperial Court also, Cyril's conduct produced an unfavourable 
impression ; and Theodosius II. acceded to Nestorius' request and 
summoned a general council. 

The council met at Ephesus in the year 431. 2 With his copy of 
the summons Cyril received an imperial reprimand for his meddle- 
some and intriguing conduct. The better to secure calm deliberation 
and order, the Emperor sent down to Ephesus the Count Candidian, 
one of his wisest ministers, as his representative. The count 
ordered all strangers, monks and laymen to quit the city, and 
forbade the bishops to absent themselves from the synod during its 
session, and especially to visit the court. Cyril and Nestorius 
arrived at Ephesus at the appointed time. The former brought 
with him sixty Egyptian bishops, blindly devoted to his will. He 
had also a powerful colleague in Memnon, bishop of Ephesus 
itself, who had forty prelates under him. Nestorius deemed it 
necessary to obtain from Candidian a guard of soldiers for his 

The arrival of John of Antioch and the Syrian bishops, who 
made the journey by land, was delayed by violent rains and other 
causes, so that sixteen days after the appointed time they were still 
five or six days' journey from the city. John informed Cyril of 
tbis in a respectful letter which he sent to excuse their delay. But 
it chimed in so completely with Cyril's purpose to proceed in the 
absence of the friends of Nestorius, that he refused to wait longer. 
On the 22nd of June, therefore, notwithstanding the protest of 
Candidian and of Nestorius and forty-one other bishops, he opened 

1 Bishop of Cyrus on the Euphrates and a fellow-student of Chrysostom ; 
well known also as the author of one of that series of Church histories (com- 
mencing with Eusebius) which covered the first six centuries of the Christian 
era, and from which we have had frequent occasion to quote. 

1 It is known as the Third General Council, Nicsea, a.d. 325, being the First 
and Constantinople, 381, the Second. 


the synod, having allowed his party to place him in the chair. The 
council was held in the church of St. Mary, where, as tradition 
affirmed, the Virgin, the Theutokos, had been interred. About 200 
bishops were present. Nestorius kept aloof, declaring that he 
would appear only when all were assembled. 

Under these circumstances an orderly investigation was not to be 
thought of ; the issue had indeed been determined beforehand. In 
a single day, the assembly sitting from morning till night, Nestorius 
was cited, arraigned, condemned, deposed, and deprived of his 
orders. At the conclusion of the farce, the assembly raised a 
tumultuous shout, "Anathema, Anathema to him who does not 
anathematize Nestorius!" and, as the narrative has it, "after many 
tears," proceeded to pass sentence against him in the following 
terms : " The Lord Jesus Christ, blasphemed by Nestorius, has 
ordained by this most holy synod, that he should be deprived of his 
episcopal rank, and of all sacerdotal fellowship." This sentence 
was signed by 198 bishops ; * after which Eheginus of Constantia in 
Cyprus preached a discourse in which Nestorius was branded as 
" worse than Cain, as one under whom the earth ought to open and 
swallow him up, and fire to rain down on him from heaven that the 
simple might witness his end." The preacher thus concluded: 
" Let us worship and adore the God, Logos, who has condescended 
to walk among us in the flesh, without separating Himself from the 
essence of the Father." 2 In the message to Nestorius which 
accompanied the sentence he was called ** a new Judas." The 
Ephesians were violently orthodox, and when the sentence was 
proclaimed by heralds, it caused tumultuous rejoicing in the city. 
The people, who had waited from morning till evening, broke out 
into shouts of triumph, and escorted Cyril and the bishops in state 
to their houses with torches and censers. 8 We need not stay to 
characterize this council as it deserves, because it was succeeded 
some years later by one far more violent and infamous. 

1 Some of the subscriptions are found in this form : " I have subscribed 

by the hand of , because I cannot write." It was the same with the signa- 
tures at the Council of Chalcedon, eighteen years afterwards. 

2 "As if," remarks Neander, "this worship of the incarnate God did not 
exist among the party of Nestorius, because they expressed themselves in other 
language ! Thus," he adds, "a new slavery to forms of expression in religion 
was again to be substituted in place of the worship of God in spirit and in 
truth ! " 

8 These events and the place suggest a parallel with Acts xix. 34, 35 ; as if, 
-almost, the Theotokot had taken the place of the Dio-petes, Diana of the 


The council sent to the Emperor a party statement of what had 
been done, full of perversions of the truth regarding Nestorius ; and 
prayed for an order that the "writings of that heretic might be 
burned wherever they were found. Nestorius and ten of his friends 
sent up a counter-memorial, complaining of the arbitrary and 
illegal proceedings of Cyril and Memnon, demanding protection, 
and praying the Emperor to summon a new and impartial assembly. 
Candidian also drew up his report, in which he gave it as his judg- 
ment that the decrees of the synod could have no legal validity. 

In the midst of these transactions, John of Antioch and the 
Syrian bishops, thirty in number, arrived at Ephesus, and in con- 
junction with the other prelates friendly to Nestorius, proceeded 
very imprudently to constitute themselves a new council. 1 With 
still greater imprudence they passed sentence of deposition upon 
Cyril and Memnon, and excommunicated all who had taken part in 
the proceedings against Nestorius. Now also came upon the scene 
the deputies of the Eoman bishop, who had been detained by con- 
trary winds, and who, according to their instructions, approved of 
all that Cyril had done. Thus fortified, the Cyrillian council pro- 
ceeded to summon before it John of Antioch and his associates, and 
when they refused to appear passed sentence of suspension against 
them. The Emperor, on receiving Candidian's report, sent a letter 
to the synod, censuring the conduct of its members, and declaring 
that he could not approve of any judgment upon the doctrines in 
dispute, which did not proceed from the whole united council. 
Unable to offer any reasonable bar to this equitable decree, Cyril 
called in the aid of fanaticism. 

There was at Constantinople an archimandrite, 2 held in great 
verneration, named Dalmatius. For forty-eight years he had lived 
in seclusion. The Emperor himself had sought his help, but could 
never prevail upon him, even in times of public calamity, to leave 
his cell. Dalmatius had from the first regarded Nestorius as a 
teacher of error, and was wont to say to those who visited him : 
" Take heed to yourselves, my brethren, an evil beast is come into 
this city who may do you an injury." To this man Cyril sent an 
account of the judgment passed upon Nestorius, and of the affliction 
which, as he pretended, the faithful were suffering at his hands. 
The arrival of the letter set the whole body of zealous monks in 
commotion. Dalmatius imagined himself summoned by a voice 

1 They are henceforth spoken of as the Oriental Party. 
8 Archimandrite, " ruler over the fold," signifies an abbot or superior of 


from heaven to come forth at last from his seclusion in order to 
save the Church from ruin. The abhots and monks issued from 
their cloisters, and chanting psalms, with torches in their hands, 
marched in procession with Dalmatius at their head to the palace 
of the Emperor. Vast multitudes followed and stood before the 
gate, chanting in their choirs, whilst the abbots were admitted to 
an audience. In the presence of a full court Dalmatius addressed 
the Emperor in a bold and confident tone, and handing him the 
letter of the synod, asked, to whom he would give ear, to six thou- 
sand bishops, or to one godless man ? The weak-minded Emperor 
promised that the Cyrillian party should be allowed to send deputies 
to Constantinople. When Dalmatius announced to the multitudes 
outside that a favourable answer had been received, the vast pro- 
cession, singing the 150th Psalm, marched forward to one of the 
churches, where Dalmatius read the letter of the synod and gave an 
account of his audience. As soon as he had finished, a universal 
shout was raised, " Anathema to Nestorius !" 

Acting on the permission thus granted, Cyril sent three bishops 
to Constantinople. The effect of their influence was soon appa- 
rent. Some who had hitherto numbered themselves amongst the 
friends of Nestorius were won over to the opposite side. To one of 
these the persecuted bishop wrote a touching letter, not reproaching 
him for his defection, but vindicating his own orthodoxy, and de- 
claring how thankful he would be to return to the tranquillity of 
his old cloister life. The Oriental bishops on their part were not' 
idle. They still had friends at court, one of whom, the count 
Irenaeus, a colleague of Candidian, laboured to counteract the in- 
fluence of the Cyrillian bishops. His success, however was only 
partial ; the Emperor's understanding was convinced, but he was a 
tool of court parties, which in turn were directed by outside in- 
fluences. All he could do was to order that the three deposed 
bishops, Nestorius, Cyril, and Memnon, should remain deposed, 
and that the rest of the council should lay aside their mutual 
contention, and prepare to return to their own sees m peace and 
concord. 1 

The Imperial message was entrusted to the count John, one of 

. the secretaries of state, who invited the bishops on both sides to 

meet him at his own apartment in Ephesus. But instead of 

1 The extreme heat of the summer, and confinement within the walls of 
Ephesus, affected the health of many of the bishops, as well as of their atten- 
dants ; several died, while many who had not made provision for so long an 
absence from their homes, were reduced to distress for the means of sub- 


listening to what he had to say, the two parties, as soon as they 
met, fell into vehement disputes, which lasted the greater part of 
the day and went on even to blows. Unable to bring them to 
reason, the count caused Cyril and Nestorius to be forcibly re- 
moved ; after which he laboured in every way to restore harmony. 
John of Antioch and his friends were prepared to make concessions; 
but the Cyrillians, to whom the person of their leader was of much 
more importance than that of Nestorius was to his party, were not 
so compliant, and when the count proposed that a common con- 
fession of faith should be drawn up, they would have nothing to do 
with it. One point on which the Emperor had expressly insisted 
was that the Oriental bishops should declare themselves in favour 
of the Theotokos. In accordance with this, the more moderate 
amongst them drew up a confession, in whicb, whilst the two 
natures in Christ were distinguished with precision, a sense was 
admitted in which the term Theotokos might be used. This con- 
cession, however, was distasteful to the more zealous of the party, 
who wholly rejected the term. 

Count John seeing that all his pains to restore peace were in- 
effectual, advised the Emperor to send for deputies from both sides, 
and to enter himself into a personal investigation of the whole 
matter. To this the Emperor agreed ; and eight bishops from each 
party went up to Constantinople. Soon after their departure from 
Ephesus, Nestorius was informed that the Emperor, in court 
phrase, "had given him permission" to return to his cloister. 
Weary of strife and care, he gladly obeyed, and retired to his cell 
outside the gates of Antioch. At the same time Cyril and Memnon 
were by an Imperial decree restored to their episcopal dignity. 

When the deputies of the two parties arrived at Chalcedon, they 
were directed not to cross the Bosphorus into Constantinople, for 
fear of exciting an insurrection of the monks. This prohibition, 
in the case of the Cyrillians, was presently withdrawn ; whilst the 
Oriental delegates, still detained on the Asiatic side, were set upon 
by the ferocious monks of the suburb, and some of them wounded. 
By this time the mind of the Emperor had become entirely closed 
against Nestorius, and when the restoration of that bishop to his 
see was urged by some members of the privy council, he cried,. 
"Let no one speak to me of Nestorius ; I have had enough of him 
already." The Oriental deputies, after five pretended audiences, 
seeing that their longer talliance would be to no purpose, obtained 
leave to return to their homes ; as did also the reot of the bishops 
who had remained at Ephesus. 

Notwithstanding all that had taken place, there was little dispo- 


sition at the Imperial Court to support Cyril in his antagonism to 
the Orientals. His dogmatic stiffness was regarded as the cause of 
the continued divisions in the Church. To further his case he had 
recourse to the arts of cajolery and bribery, and spent so much 
money on chamberlains and court ladies, that the Churches of 
Alexandria were burdened with debt. 

But if Cyril was regarded with suspicion, the hatred against 
Nestorius grew more and more intense. Even John of Antioch 
now wavered, and at length drew off from his old friend and ally. 
Cyril, on his part, finding his intrigues produce but little fruit, 
began to see that a timely concession might win over the moderate 
Orientals to the condemnation of Nestorius. An iniquitous com- 
pact was accordingly entered into between the two parties. Cyril 
subscribed a confession of faith, essentially identical with that 
which the moderate Orientals had sent up to Constantinople. John 
of Antioch consented to condemn Nestorius, and to recognize Maxi- 
mian as bishop of Constantinople in his place. This compromise, 
made in the year 432, met with the usual fate of such hollow and 
artificial reconciliations. Concealing the inward schism which still 
continued to exist, it merely served to call forth new divisions. 
Cyril was accused by the zealots of his party of betraying his own 
cause, whilst in his " confession" the Ultra-Orientals saw the hated 
spectre of Apollinarianism rise again into view. 1 

But whilst there were divisions in the Oriental camp with regard 
to the scheme of doctrine now put forth by Cyril, there was little 
disposition to follow John's example in condemning Nestorius. 
With Theodoret at their head, the Syrian bishops declared that 
they would consent " neither with hand, tongue, nor heart," to the 
unjust and wicked sentence which had been passed upon him ; and 
they not only continued to regard Cyril as excluded from the 

1 One of the Oriental bishops, Andreas of Samosata, relates a singular 
dream. He found himself in an assembly of bishops, where he was told that 
the heretic Apollinaris was in reality still living. Andreas in astonishment 
asked several times whether this really was so, and Alexander assured him it 
was. All at once they entered a house where Apollinaris, in extreme old age, 
lay upon a bed. As they were about to take their seats by the bedside the old 
man rose and distributed the elements of the Supper. The bishop John of 
Antioch sitting on the bed received the bread and wine from his hand. But 
Andreas with indignation said within himself, " What accommodation to cir- 
cumstances is this ! it is a sin against the Holy Ghost ; it is trifling with the 
incarnation of our Lord." With these words he awoke, and gave earnest ex- 
pression to the wish that the dream might not prove true, that Apollinaris, who 
had re-appeared, so to speak, in Cyril, might not bring them all over to his 
own dootrine. 


Church, but they excommuicated all who accepted the compromise. 
Encroaching conduct on the part of John still further estranged 
them from him, and the schism which thus arose in the diocese of 
Antioch, spread into other parts of the East, until there was formed 
an association of bishops who were opposed to the three patriarchs 
of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch. 

Nestorius was still dear to many at Constantinople, and on the 
death of Maximian, in 433, vast multitudes assembled and de- 
manded his restoration, threatening in case of refusal to set fire to 
the cathedral. This demonstration however was of no avail. 
Proclus, who had been, as we have seen, one of the first to oppose 
Nestorius, was elected patriarch, and leagued himself with Cyril 
and John, in supporting the unnatural compact of the previous 
year. The two latter, determined to overcome the resistance of the 
Oriental Church, employed threats and bribery, and even obtained 
an Imperial edict for the expulsion of such bishops as refused to 
accept the articles of agreement. Men who for a long period of 
years had given their lives wholly to their spiritual office, were now 
threatened with a forcible separation from the communities by 
whom they were beloved and respected, because the arbitrary will 
of a few individuals found it possible through the Court to rule 
over the Church. 

Most of the bishops, including even Theodoret, bent before the 
storm. A few remained faithful, and were driven from their sees 
by military force. Amongst these are especially to be named 
Meletius of Mopsuestia and Alexander, the venerable bishop of 
Hierapolis, who set the noble example of preferring the answer of 
a good conscience above worldly advantage and imperial favour. 
Alexander boldly declared that even if the dead were to rise and 
testify in favour of the Egyptian doctrines, he must yet be true to 
Iris own conscience, and reject them. "When he was torn from his 
own flock, a universal lamentation arose through the city; the 
churches were closed, and it was necessary to open them by force. 
Meletius, when reproached with the presumption of standing out 
alone against the united judgment of the whole Christian world, 
replied that God has given to men the dominion over their own 
will ; whence it has often happened, as the Old and New Testa- 
ments show, that a few, inspired by faith in God, have defended 
the truth against the multitude. "Pardon me, I pray you," he 
said, " if I find myself unable to deceive my own conscience. As 
isoon as I see the order for my removal signed by the Emperor's 
own hand, I shall leave the church, still praising God as before. I 
am ready by his grace not only to give up my church, but to die a 


thousand deaths rather than sin against my conscience." He was 
banished to Armenia. Neither of these faithful Witnesses had 
saved enough money to defray the expenses of his journey. 

Thus forsaken by almost all his friends, and every day more 
hated at the Imperial Court, the very name of Nestorius became a 
byword and a reproach, and continued to be such for many succes- 
sive ages. His enemies grudged him the tranquillity he enjoyed in 
his cloister before the gates of Antioch; and the Koman bishop 
Celestine, so early as 432, called upon the Emperor to remove from 
society the man who had been condemned by the judgment of the 
whole Church, and who still persisted in his " blasphemous errors." 
He was, however, left unmolested until 435, when Cyril and John, 
in the prosecution of their unholy alliance, procured his banish- 
ment. The place of his exile was one of the oases of Egypt, pro- 
bably the Great Oasis. After remaining there a while he was 
carried off by some Libyan barbarians, who however had com- 
passion upon him, set him at liberty, and warned him to seek a 
safer place of abode. He went to the town of Panapolis in the 
Thebais ; but here the prefect, more barbarous than the barbarians, 
caused the aged bishop, now enfeebed by hardship, to be hurried 
by his soldiers pitilessly from place to place. Of the manner in 
which he ended his days, no certain account has come down to us. 
During his exile he enjoyed sufficient composure of mind to write 
a history of the controversy in which he had been engaged. In this 
production, which he styled Tragedy, and of which only some few 
extracts have survived, he forcibly exposes the intrigues of Cyril, 
but speaks with more forbearance of those who had been the dupes 
of that bishop. 

The followers of Nestorius were numerous. Driven beyond the 
bounds of the Empire, their teachers sought a refuge in the school 
of Edessa, from whence their doctrines spread into Persia, 1 India, 
and Tartary, and even into the heart of northern China. They had 
churches also in Syria, Arabia, and Cyprus. At the present day 
they are found in the mountains of Kurdistan and the plain of 
Oroomiah on the confines of Persia and Armenia. Although 
ignorant, they are in many ways more simple and spiritual than 
the other Oriental Churches. They reject the use of images, the 
worship of Mary as the mother of God, and the doctrine of purga- 
tory. They do not practise auricular confession ; and their priests 
mainly support themselves by labour. Both bishops and presbyters 
are permitted to marry. Their worship is more simple than that 

1 Syriac became the ritual language of the Persian Church. 


of the Greek Church, and they are more accessible to the message 
of the Gospel. They have been styled the Protestants of Asia. 

The banishment of Nestorius brought no relief to his followers. 
The same year a new Imperial edict appeared, ordaining that the 
Nestorians should for the future be called Simonians, 1 that all who 
should copy, preserve, or read the writings of Nestorius should be 
severely punished, and that all bishops who defended him should 
be deposed. All meetings of Nestorians for divine worship were 
forbidden. A military tribune was sent into the Antiochian diocese 
to enforce this law. But Theodoret and some others refused to 
stoop to any further concession. 

In the midst of these conflicts death carried off Cyril from the 
scene of his restless strife, a.d. 444. But the spirit of Cyril sur- 
vived in his successor. 2 This was Dioscorus, a man of like ambi- 
tion, of an irascible and boisterous temper, and a loose manner of 
life, who stuck at no means, however infamous, to attain his object. 
He inherited the aims as well as some of the traits of his prede- 
cessor, and laboured with equal zeal to make the doctrine of the 
one nature in Christ dominant, and to exalt the Alexandrian see 
above that of Constantinople. The Oriental Churches, led now by 
Theodoret, were the principal object of his attack ; he had as allies 
within those Churches a party of monks and clergy, the abbot 
Barsumas at their head, who had acted as spies to Cyril and creators 
of disturbance. 

At Constantinople there continued to be an influential body of 
abbots and monks, who, deficient in intellectual culture, and unable 
to apprehend any system but that which appealed to their feelings, 
naturally gravitated towards the Alexandrian doctrine, which in 
fact they carried to an extreme. " We hold fast to the Scriptures," 
so they were accustomed to say, " and these declare that the Word 
became flesh. In becoming flesh He assuredly underwent no 
change. He is the same ; and this is the inexpressible wonder. 
God was born ; God suffered ; God has a body. The how is what 
no reason can explain. It is not for us to know more than Scrip- 
ture reveals. All beyond is dangerous to faith." 3 

1 From Simon Magus ; a common epithet of detestation for inveterate here- 
tics : " even," says the Edict, " as the Arians were styled Porphyrians by a law 
of Constantine of blessed memory." 

2 In regard to Cyril, it is due to say that some historians take a much more 
favourable view of his character and aims. 

3 They spoke of the Saviour's humanity as " absorbed in his Godhead, like a 
drop of honey in the ocean." 


The leader of this party was the abbot Eutyches, 1 and from him 
the new stage of the protracted contest has been called the Euty- 
chian Controversy. This man had lived from youth to old age 
shut up in his cloister, which he had never quitted but once, 
namely, at the time of the Cyrillian Council at Ephesus, when he 
had come abroad in public to raise his voice against Nestorius. It 
was the writings of Theodoret which now again drew him out to 
oppose the " pernicious doctrines " of those who, as he expressed 
it, divided the one and only Christ into two Sons of God. At the 
same time Theodoret in a fresh treatise challenged both Dioscorus 
and Eutyches, skilfully attacking the whole type of doctrine which 
they set forth, and making an able defence of the Antiochian theo- 
logy. Dioscorus, instead of defending himself with the pen, accused 
Theodoret before the new patriarch of Antioch, Domnus who had 
succeeded to that see on the death of his uncle John of preaching 
two Sons of God. Theodoret saw the danger, and expressed his 
readiness to condemn such as refused to call Mary Theotokos. But 
this concession came too late. Dioscorus sent a memorial to the 
Emperor, accusing the whole Oriental Church of Nestorianism ; 
and Theodoret received orders to keep quiet and not to leave his 
own diocese. 

At this juncture the scene suddenly shifted. Flavian, who in 

1 " As Nestorius, teaching rightly that God and man are distinct natures, did 
thereupon misinfer that in Christ those natures can by no conjunction make 
one person ; so Eutyches, of sound belief as teaching their true personal con- 
junction, became unsound by denying the difference which still continueth be- 
tween the one and the other natures." Hooker. The same judicious writer 
thus sums up the four points which express the whole nature of Christ, with 
the corresponding heresies regarding them, and the councils at which they were 
condemned. " There are but four things which concur to make complete the 
whole state of our Lord Jesus Christ : his deity, his manhood, the conjunction 
of both, and the distinction of one from the other being joined into one. Four 
principal heresies there are, which have in these things withstood the truth : 
Arians, by bending themselves against the deity of Christ ; Apollinarians, by 
maiming and misinterpreting that which belongeth to his human nature ; 
Nestorians, by rending Christ asunder, and dividing Him into two persons ; the 
followers of Eutyches, by confounding in his person those natures which they 
should distinguish. Against these there have been four most famous councils : 
the Council of Nicaea, to define against Arians ; against Apollinarians, the 
Council of Constantinople ; the Council of Ephesus, against Nestorians ; against 
Eutychians, the Chalcedon Council. In four words, alethos, teleos, adiairetos, 
asugchutos, truly, perfectly, indivisibly, distinctly ; the first applied to his being 
God, the second to his being man, the third to his being of both One, and the 
fourth to his still continuing in that one Both ; we may fully, by way of 
abridgment, comprise whatsoever antiquity hath at large handled either in de- 
claration of Christian belief, or in refutation of the foresaid heresies." 


446 succeeded Proclus as bishop of Constantinople, assembled two 
years later a local or home synod, as it was termed. In this 
assembly, Eutyches, whose crude theology was as hateful to many 
as that of his opponent Nestorius had been, was formally arraigned 
and excommunicated as a heretic. This rash act, committed in the 
face of the Emperor's displeasure, and in spite of the popularity 
and influence of the accused, was acquiesced in unwillingly by 
Flavian, who was carried away by the tide he could not stem. 
Eutyches and his party cried aloud for a general council. 

The " Second Council of Ephesus" was accordingly summoned 
in 449. It was never designed to be a free assembly of the Church ; 
it was merely an instrument in the hands of Dioscorus, Eutyches 
and the Emperor, for the overthrow of Flavian, and, as Theodosius 
expressed it, " the extirpation of the devilish root of the Nestorian 
heresy." Dioscorus was nominated president. Flavian was to 
have no vote. In order to counterbalance the still dreaded influence 
of Theodoret and the Oriental bishops, a seat was given to the 
abbot Barsumas, as the representative of the orthodox archi- 
mandrites, who, in many places of the East, were in antagonism 
to their bishops. Lastly two counts of the Empire were included 
that they might employ the secular power in support of the domi- 
nant party. The Egyptian bishops who accompanied Dioscorus 
were men of a violent and fanatical spirit, and Barsumas was 
attended by a " thousand rabid monks and a troop of brawny hos- 
pital waiters," whose fierce shouts showed they were ready for 
strife and outrage. But the cause of injustice derived its greatest 
strength from the cowardice or covetousness of many of the bishops, 
who loved honour and office more than the truth. They professed 
Christ with the lips, but in act and spirit they denied Him. When 
a formal complaint was about to be brought against a bishop, 
accused of unchastity and other offences, Dioscorus dismissed the 
whole matter. " If," said he, " you have a complaint against his 
orthodoxy, we shall receive it, but we have not come here to pass 
judgment on unchastity." They were, in fact, " for acting," re- 
marks Theodoret, " as if Christ had give us a rule of faith merely, 
and not a rule of practice." 

The proceedings were violent and disorderly from the beginning ; 
Dioscorus turned out all reporters but those of his own party. He 
opened the synod by declaring that the Council of Nicaea and the 
Council of Ephesus had established one and the same creed, which 
was unalterable. " Accursed then," he exclaimed, " be he who 
would unsettle again what was there determined ! " In response 
to which the assembly shouted out : " On this depends the salva- 


tion of the world ! God save the bishop Dioscorus, the great 
guardian of the faith ! " 

" Eutyches laid before the council a written confession of faith, 
which having been read and approved, Flavian called upon Euse- 
bius of Dorylseum to read and make good the charges he had pre- 
ferred against Eutyches at the home synod. This was not allowed, 
and the acts of the synod were merely read over. No disturbance 
arose until the part taken by Eusebius in urging Eutyches to 
acknowledge two natures in Christ after the incarnation, came 
under review, and then all was confusion and uproar." The 
Egyptian bishops and the whole throng of monks who accom- 
panied Barsumas, exclaimed : " Divide asunder the man who speaks 
of two natures ! He who speaks of two natures is a Nestorius." 
Eusebius attempted to explain, but was interrupted by cries of, 
" Burn Eusebius ! let him be burned alive ! As he has cut Christ 
asunder, so let him be cut asunder ! " The president put the ques- 
tion : " Is the doctrine that there are two natures after the incar- 
nation to be tolerated ?" The answer was returned : " Anathema 
on him who so says ! " ' " I have your voices," replied Dioscorus, 
" I must have your hands ! He who cannot cry, let him lift up his 
hands!" All hands were raised, with the shout: "Expel, burn, 
tear, cut asunder, massacre all who hold two natures ! " 

Dioscorus then demanded the condemnation of Eusebius and 
Flavian. The bishops now perceived that they had gone too far, 
and a number of them gathered round, imploring him on their 
knees not to proceed further. Disregarding their entreaties he 
exclaimed : " Call in the counts ! " The pro-consul of Asia entered, 
attended by soldiers and monks, with swords, clubs and chains. 
The bishops in terror attempted to hide themselves in corners of 
the church, or under the benches; they were dragged out, and 
with threats and blows compelled to sign a blank paper on which 
the condemnation of Flavian was to be written. It is said that 
Dioscorus and Barsumas struck the aged Flavian on the face, 
kicked him, and stamped on him, Barsumas shouting, " Strike 
him, strike him dead!" He was taken out of the council hall; 
and being dragged by the soldiers to Hypepe, a village at a short 
distance from the city, expired three days after. Eusebius and 
Theodoret were deposed and the former imprisoned. The Roman 
legates offered a fruitless resistance to these barbarous and tyran- 
nical acts. 1 

1 Neander remarks that the bishops, in palliation afterwards of their own 
conduct, had strong inducements to exaggerate the violence used on this occa- 
sion, and that many contradictions may be detected in their testimony. " Still,' 


To this infamous assembly Leo of Rome, doubtless not unin- 
fluenced by the treatment his own representatives had received, 
gave the expressive name of the Robber Synod (Latrocinium). 
" Terrible was the day on which it opened," writes the abbe Mar- 
tin ; " the true faith received in the East a shock from which it 
has never since completely recovered. The Church witnessed the 
separation from herself of nations which have never returned to 
her, and perhaps never will." It seems to us hardly credible that 
such a scene could ever be tolerated either by Church or Emperor. 
We see the literal fulfilment of Paul's prediction to the elders of 
this very city: "Grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not 
sparing the flock." What were such synods but herds of wolves 
in disguise, holding high council as though they were the true 
shepherds ? To what purpose is it that the Holy Ghost says : 
"The Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all; 
correcting in meekness them that oppose themselves " ? 

So corrupt were the times that the very bishops who had taken 
part in the home synod of Constantinople under Flavian, hastened 
to give their adhesion to the decrees of the Robber Council. But 
this concession could not save the party. Many of the most worthy 
bishops of the East were deposed. By these measures Dioscorus 
succeeded at last in silencing, if he could not extinguish, the 
Oriental Church. 

The sagacious churchman who then filled the Roman chair, and 
of whom it has been said that he "possessed every virtue com- 
patible with an unbounded ambition," 1 had been no unconcerned 
spectator of the Nestorian Controversy. He considered himself to be 
of right, as Peter's successor, the chief shepherd of the entire 
Church, and the hope of establishing universal dominion, no less 
than his own sound theological convictions, compelled him to inter- 
fere. His strong clear intellect perceived the importance of the 
question at issue, and two months before the Robber Council met, 

he adds, "it is clear that force was resorted to in various ways ; that the 
bishops were kept confined for a whole day in the church ; that they were 
menaced by soldiers and monks till they had subscribed ; and that blank papers 
were laid before them for their signature, which could afterwards be filled up 
with whatever the leaders chose." 

1 Milman says of Leo : " He was a Roman in sentiment as in birth. All that 
survived of Rome, of her unbounded ambition, her inflexible perseverance, her 
dignity in defeat, her haughtiness of language, her belief in her own eternity 
and in her indefeasible title to universal dominion, her respect for traditionary 
and written law and for unchangeable custom, might seem concentred in him." 
Leo, it may be added, seems to have been almost free from the superstition of 
his age. 


he had embodied his views in a letter or Tome, addressed to the 
Patriarch Flavian. This document, or one of similar import, was 
presented to the council, but Dioscorus always contrived to put off 
the reading of it. In this celebrated letter, the entireness and yet 
the distinctness of the two natures united in the Saviour, are de- 
fined with singular ability, and copiously illustrated. Leo demon- 
strates that the fundamental truth of Christianity is sacrificed 
quite as much by a curtailment of Christ's humanity as of his 
divinity. " The faith," so he wrote, in words which have become 
famous, " by which the Catholic Church lives and progresses is, 
that neither his humanity exists without his true divinity, nor his 
divinity without his true humanity. A denial of his veritable 
human nature is a denial also of his corporeal passion ; and the 
danger is equal of believing that our Lord Jesus Christ is either 
God alone without being man, or man only without being God. 
In the one nature He suffered death, but in the other He could not 

After the Robber Council events concurred to favour Leo's inter- 
ference. In 450 Theodosius died, and his sister Pulcheria, who- 
had been the patroness of Flavian, united herself in marriage with 
Marcian, a soldier of fortune on whom she conferred the Imperial 
diadem. A complete change now came over the court religion. 
The exiled bishops were recalled ; and many trimmed their sails 
anew to suit the change in the wind. Anatolius, the new bishop 
of Constantinople, was recognized by Leo only on the condition 
of subscribing his Letter and condemning Eutyches, as well as 

Both Leo and the Emperor were favourable to calling a new 
general council, as the best means of repairing the mischief done 
by the Robber Synod ; but whilst Leo urged that the place of 
meeting should be in Italy, the Emperor decided on Nicsea. The 
assembly came together in 451. 1 Owing to the disturbances 
created by fanatical monks and others, the Emperor was induced 
to transfer it to Chalcedon. 

The council met in the church of Euphemia the martyr. Eva- 
grius the historian, who was conversant with the capital and its 
vicinity, describes the spot with the pen of an eye-witness : " You 
go up to the church by a gentle ascent, and from this commanding 
position, survey the plain beneath, verdant with herbage, corn, and 
every kind of tree. The eye takes in also a range of woody moun- 

1 The number of bishops is variously reckoned at from 520 to 630. All were 
from the East except Leo's envoys and two African bishops. 


tains, and rests on the sea where the dark blue waters play with a 
gentle ripple on the beach, or the surging waves in their recoil 
sweep back the shells and seaweed. Right opposite rises Constan- 
tinople in the charm of its vastness. Here the council was under 
the Emperor's own eye, and he deputed nineteen officers of state to 
attend it as his representatives. The Eoman delegates and Ana- 
tolius sat as presidents of the clergy. 

Although the assembly was so numerous, and so august in its 
constitution, the irritation and mutual hatred of the two parties 
was apparent from the very outset. When Theodoret appeared in 
the midst as the accuser of his former judges, whilst he was wel- 
comed by the Orientals with enthusiasm, the bishops of the Egyptian 
party raised a malignant cry : " Cast forth the Jew, the enemy of 
God, the blasphemer of Christ ! " Notwithstanding, however, this 
burst of fanaticism, fear, court favour, and the change in religious 
fashion soon showed their effects. The Palestinian bishops left the 
seats which they had at first occupied near the Egyptians, and 
removed to the opposite side where the Orientals and the Eoman 
delegates were seated. Others followed their example, until at last 
Dioscorus was left with only thirteen Egyptian bishops to support 
him. But the sense of shame was not entirely wanting. When 
the question arose of deposing those bishops who had taken the 
lead in the late council, the assembly resounded with the cry: "We 
have all sinned, we all ask forgiveness." Many with an ill grace 
excused their past conduct on the ground of Imperial authority and 
constraint. Even the commissioners declared such an excuse in 
matters of faith to be inadmissible, and Dioscorus stigmatized it as 
a confession of guilt. The Alexandrian bishop was as courageous 
as he was overbearing. He made an able and spirited defence, 1 
and had even the audacity to excommunicate Leo. The sentence 
of the synod, which was signed by about 300 bishops, condemned 
him to degradation from his episcopal and priestly rank : it was 
confirmed by the Emperor, who added to it that of exile. Dioscorus 
ended his days at Gangra in Paphlagonia, a.d. 454. 

Leo's letter to Flavian, already noticed, was read at the Council 
of Chalcedon. When the Roman delegates proposed that it should 
be adopted as an authoritative creed, some murmurs were at first 
heard ; but when it was threatened to hold a council at Rome, the 

1 Dioscorus acknowledged Christ to be " of two natures," but declined to use 
the form " in two natures," thus refusing to own that the difference of natures 
subsisted after the incarnation. The distinction between "in" and "of" 
became a Shibboleth in the Church. 


objectors gave way, and shouts of approval burst from all sides : 
" This is the belief of the Fathers, of the Apostles ! Thus do we 
all believe ! Accursed be he who denies that Peter has spoken by 
the mouth of Leo ! " 1 

We subjoin the symbol or creed adopted by the council, which 
was succeeded by the usual presumptuous anathema against all 
who should presume to teach otherwise : " Following the holy 
Fathers, we unanimously teach one and the same Son, our Lord 
Jesus Christ, complete as to his Godhead, and complete as to his 
manhood ; truly God, and truly man, of a reasonable soul and 
human flesh subsisting ; consubstantial with the Father as to his 
Godhead, and consubstantial also with us as to his manhood ; like 
unto us in all things, yet without sin : as to his Godhead begotten 
of the Father before all worlds, but as to his manhood, in these 
last days born for us men and for our salvation of the Virgin Mary, 
the mother of God (Theotokos) ; one and the same Christ, Son, 
Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in (or of) 2 two natures , 
without confusion, without conversion, without severance, and 
without division ; the distinction of the natures being in nowise 
taken away by their union, but the property of each nature being 
maintained, and both concurring in one person and substance 
(hypostasis). We confess not a Son divided and sundered into 
two persons, but one and the same Son, and Only-begotten, God 
the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ ; even as the prophets had before 
proclaimed concerning Him, and He himself hath taught us, and 
the symbol of the fathers hath handed down to us." 

Although the Egyptian party had submitted, their hatred towards 
the Orientals was in no degree appeased. In the eighth session of 
the council the case of Theodoret came up for consideration, and he 
was set upon vociferously, and urged to anathematize Nestorius, his 
doctrines, and his friends. The theological opinions of Theodoret 
appear to have undergone a change, 3 and he had come to the 
council prepared to make large concessions. "Truly," he said, "it 
is not for the sake of my bishopric that I have come here, but to 

1 A legend grew up respecting this letter. It was said that when the Pope 
had written it, he laid it on the Apostle Peter's altar, praying that if there were 
anything erroneous in it, it might be corrected. At the end of three days he 
found the letter marked with sundry erasures and emendations, which he 
accepted as the work of the apostle. 

2 The reading is uncertain. 

8 In one of his latest works, his Account of Heresies, he speaks of Nestorius 
as " an instrument of Satan," and as having under the pretext of orthodoxy 
denied both the divinity and the incarnation of the Only-begotten Son. 


prove myself an orthodox man, to show you that I condemn 
Nestorius and Eutyches and every one who speaks of two Sons of 
God." This was not enough for his implacable adversaries, who 
interrupted him with repeated cries : " Say, Anathema to Nestorius 
and to all who think with him." He attempted to justify himself: 

" I cannot utter that anathema, but I believe " . Here he was 

again interrupted : " He is a heretic, a Nestorian, cast out the 
Nestorian ! " Wearied with the strife, and overborne by clamour, 
he at length gave way, and repeated the formula : " Anathema to 
Nestorius, and to every one who refuses to call Mary the mother of 
God, and who divides in two the Only-begotten Son." Upon this 
he was considered to have given sufficient proof of his orthodoxy, 
and at the instance of the Imperial commissioners he was restored. 
to his Church by acclamation. It is uncertain whether Theodoret 
returned to his see, or spent the remainder of his days in his 
monastery, devoting himself to literary labour. He died a.d. 458. 1 
Theodoret's is a sad history. He was possessed of a broad, un- 
selfish, and independent spirit, but the times in which he lived were 
too hard and stormy for his faith. "With Nestorius and John of 
Antioch, he was brought up in a Syrian monastery, where he is said 
to have been placed at the age of seven, and to have sat at the feet 
of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Chrysostom. In 423 he was pressed 
into the episcopal office, and sent to govern the Church of Cyrus on 
the Euphrates, with its 800 villages. Here he set himself with 
extraordinary success to the conversion of heretics, and was distin- 
guished for his skill in refuting the arguments of Jews and pagans* 
In one of his letters he enters, like Paul, into a forced commenda- 
tion of himself: " I have never prosecuted, or been prosecuted at 
law ; and I can say the same of all the pious clergy in my diocese. 
Neither I nor my servants ever received a gift, not so much as a loaf 
or an egg. Long ago I gave my patrimony to the poor ; and now 
I possess neither house, land, nor money, not even a sepulchre in 
which to lay my bones. Out of my episcopal revenues I have 
erected porticoes, built bridges, and repaired the public baths. I 
found the city without water, and have constructed an aqueduct by 
which it is plentifully supplied." "When Theodoret was deposed by 
the Robber Synod, he wrote : " The hardships we undergo for the 

1 Whilst theological storms were thus agitating the Church, the world with? 
out was convulsed by a tempest of a different kind. Attila the Hun, " the 
scourge of God," was devastating the countries both of the East and the West. 
From 445 to 450, he ravaged the Empire from the Euxine to the Adriatic, after 
which he continued his march into Gaul, where, in 451, at Chalons, he was 
defeated by Aetius and Theodoric, King of the Goths. He died in 453. i 


sake of the divine doctrines are welcome. It cannot be otherwise if 
we truly believe in the promise that ' the sufferings of this present 
time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be 
revealed to us-ward.' But why should I speak of future blessings ? 
Even though no reward were bestowed on the combatants, yet the 
Truth itself alone is enough to move its friends to encounter with 
all joy every danger in its behalf." Although an intense admirer 
of the ascetic life, and swallowing the miracles of the desert with as 
great an avidity as Athanasius or Jerome, he had yet a profound 
reverence for truth and reason. " Blind faith," he writes, " is the 
source of all the evils and errors of the Church. Of all heresies the 
most dangerous is that which in our days lifts its head so high, and 
with equal absurdity and injustice, exacts that man should abandon 
his own intelligence and receive his religion without examination, 
thus preventing him from ever arriving at a living and constant 

The acts of the Council of Chalcedon were ill-adapted to secure 
the object it had in view, namely, the union of the two parties. The 
defects and contradictions which were brought to light ; the substi- 
tution of one formula of belief for another; the mischievous influence 
of the Court : all this was fatal to the authority of its decisions. 

The prominence given in the council to the doctrine of "one 
nature " marks indeed only a fresh epoch in the dreary theological 
war, which now enters upon its third and last stage, under the 
name of the Monophysite Controversy. This word Monophysite 
.(One Nature) became a war cry with the wild and untutored monks 
of Egypt and Palestine, who showed little mercy to such as differed 
from them. We do not propose to pursue further the history of the 
dispute. "Were we to do so we should see adventurous monks 
climbing to the highest places by the ladder of fanaticism ; provinces 
wasted with fire and sword; one Emperor vowing to make the 
Monophysite doctrine universal in the East; the next eagerly 
espousing the opposite cause ; a third in danger of losing his crown 
because he favoured a proposed addition to a Church hymn. 1 But 
of reason or piety, of love to God or charity to man, of the true 

1 Out of the Monophysite heresy was evolved the Monothelite (of one will) in 
which the metaphysical point was drawn out to such a degree of fineness as to 
be invisible. Mosheim observes : " They admitted two wills in Christ [the 
divine and the human], both active and operative, and yet maintained that, in 
a certain sense, there is in Him but one will and one operation of will." This 
phase of theology arose during the reign of the Emperor Heraclius (a.d. 610 
641), and divided the Eastern Church for fifty years. It was condemned by the 
Council of Constantinople (a.d. 630), called the Sixth (Ecumenical Council. 


witnessing for Christ, we should find next to nothing. Never was 
the Apostle's injunction to Timothy, and through him to all these 
hishops, whether Alexandrian, Antiochian, Nestorian, Eutychian, 
or Monophysite more needed or less regarded : " Charging them 
in the sight of the Lord, that they strive not about words, to no 
profit, to the subverting of them that hear." * 

A few straggling rays of light, indicative, let us hope, of many 
more now lost in oblivion, illumined this long age of darkness. 
One is the character of Timotheus Salophaciolus, patriarch of 
Alexandria in the year 460, and again in 477. This man, by his 
gentleness and moderation, secured on two occasions to that dis- 
tracted city an interval of tranquillity in the midst of perpetual 
disturbance. Himself a Duophysite (defender of the tico natures), 
he protected instead of persecuting the Monophysite party, and 
although admonished by the Emperor Basiliscus to use greater 
severity towards the heretics, he was not to be turned aside from his 
course of rectitude. In consequence he was esteemed by all parties, 
the Monophysites calling to him in the streets: "Although we have 
no Church fellowship with thee yet we love thee." 

Another gleam of brightness is found in the resistance of a North 
African bishop to the arbitrary will of Justinian. In 544 that 
Emperor published the edict of The Three Chapters, in which the 
writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret, the survivor of 
whom had been dead a century, were condemned. 2 The edict was 
sent through the whole Empire to receive the signatures of the 
bishops. Justinian's great general, Belisarius, had just recovered 
North Africa from the Vandals, and the Church in that desolated 
province had begun again to show signs of life. The bishop 
Facundus of Hermiana possessed a temper rare in those days. 
Having first thoroughly investigated the doctrinal questions in dis- 
pute, and come to a decision upon them, he abode by the result with 
unshaken constancy. He wrote a treatise eminently characterised 
by freedom of spirit and disregard of the fear of man, as well as by 
a candid and searching criticism. In this tract he protested against 
the unwarrantable dogmatism which had wrought so much mischief 
in the Greek Church. " Whilst," he says, " in other arts no one 
presumes to pass judgment on what he has never learned, in 

1 The external Church during this period was maintained on a magnificent 
scale. The cathedral of Constantinople, under the Emperor Justinian, was 
served by 60 presbyters, 100 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 90 sub-deacons, 110 lectors, 
25 precentors, and 100 janitors a total of 525 officers. 

2 The writings of the former were so effectually destroyed that only some 
titles and fragments have come down to us. 


matters of theology those who have learned the least are most 
arrogant and peremptory in their judgments. When the civil 
power oversteps its office, it may indeed ruin men by betraying them 
to deny the truth with their lips, but it can never effect the object- 
it has in view, for it cannot instil into their minds other convictions 
than they possess ; it can act only on what is external ; it cannot- 
reach the soul." Of the bishops who excused their compliance by 
the constraint of secular power, he spoke with scorn. "As if we 
have been ordained bishops for no other purpose than to be enriched 
by the gifts of princes, and to sit among the high dignitaries of the 
State. And as if, when by the cares of government and the arts of 
the wicked, the prince has admitted anything which tends to injure 
the Church or disturb its peace, it were not our duty to set before 
him the truth for his own good, and if necessary to resist him with 
our Christian authority, and patiently endure his displeasure." 1 

The controversy held on its withering course throughout the fifth 
and the greater part of the sixth century, branching out into 
further dispute on the doctrines of Origen, and the edict of The 
Three Chapters. After the year 565, when death delivered the 
Church from that great legislator and self-deluded theologian 
Justinian, the Monophysites, like the Nestorians, became a separate 
sect outside the limits of the Church general ; and thus they have 
continued to the present day. Their descendants are yet found in 
Syria, Armenia, Assyria, Egypt and Abyssinia. " They have," 
says Schaff, " long since fallen into stagnation, ignorance and 
superstition, and are to Christendom as a praying corpse to a living 
man." "Isolated fragments," he styles them, " of ancient Church 
history, curious petrifactions from the Christological battle-fields of 
the fifth and sixth centuries." 

But if the long controversy, of which Monophysitism was the 
concluding act, was barren of good, it was abundantly fruitful of 
evil. Schism, hatred, bloodshed, the bitterest intolerance, the 
substitution of words for actions, of formal orthodoxy for practical 
piety, broke down what yet remained of vigour and life in the once 
flourishing Churches of the East, and left them, in the succeeding 
century, an easy prey to the Mohammedan conquerors. When the 
challenge came they surrendered their liberty, often their faith, with 
an alacrity which else would have been incredible ; and even where 
they resisted, it was with the warrior's sword, not with the spirit 
of ancient martyrdom. 

1 To these instances may be added the enlightened testimony borne by John 
the Almsgiver, patriarch of Constantinople, in which he shows clearly that 
Slavery is abhorrent to the Gospel. 

( 225 ) 


Christian Art and Mary-Worship. 

Whilst the Church was thus torn by internal contest on questions 
of doctrine, Art within the Church was steadily developing in con- 
formity with the growing elaboration of her ritual and the splendour 
of her priesthood. There was one Italian city which signalised 
itself beyond all others by the beauty and variety of the works 
which were there executed during this period. This was Kavenna> 

Theodoric's Palace, Bavenna. 

which, from the fifth to the eighth century, was virtually the capital 
of Italy. One reign during this long period of violence and revolu- 
tion, stands forth illustrious. It is that of Theodoric the Goth. 
His beneficent and prosperous rule gave time to the distracted 
country to breathe again after her long years of agony. During his 
reign, 491-526, so great was the security attained in Italy that even 
wayfarers were safe. Ennodius calls him a " pattern of a perfect 
king for moderation, temperance, chastity, and sacerdotal modesty." 



" The serene impartiality of Theodoric's government in religious 
affairs," says a modern writer, " extorts the praise of the most 
zealous Catholic. Himself an Arian, he attempted nothing against 
the Catholic faith. ' We cannot,' he used to say, 'impose a religion 
by command, because no one can be compelled to believe against 
his will.' He devoted himself to maintaining the peace, securing 
the welfare, promoting the civilization, and lightening the financial 
burdens of his people." 

The churches of Ravenna and the mosaics with which they are 
embellished form a collection of early Christian Art which stands 
alone amongst the monuments of Europe. " It is well," says 
Freeman, " that there should be one spot from which the monuments 
of heathen Eome and mediaeval Christendom are alike absent, and 
where every relic breathes of the strange and almost forgotten time 
which comes between the two." The art and the artists came 
alike from the East, and their work has been described as " more 
Byzantine than Constantinople itself ; " and although it belongs 
to successive dominations so dissimilar as those of the declining 
Empire, the great Ostrogoth, and the Exarchate, yet the same de- 
sign and the same workmanship extend unbroken through a period 
of 250 years. 

The church of S. Vitale contains the celebrated mosaics of 
Justinian and Theodora, " still almost as fresh as when they were 
first executed." The two sovereigns, with other principal figures, 
form the frontispiece to this volume ; it was composed by Edward 
Backhouse from two distinct and larger groups. 

In these rich remains of Christian art from the fifth to the 
seventh century, nothing is more conspicuous than the advance 
which had taken place in superstitious ideas since the era of the 
catacombs. That era came to an end about the time when the 
Eavenna mosaics were commenced. In the monuments on the 
walls of the catacombs there is a marked absence of that idolatry 
into which the Church afterwards fell. There were, originally, 
no apostles in their ecclesiastical character, no saints, no ma- 
donnas, no angels, no nimbus or auriole. 1 In Ravenna we find all 
these, some of them, it may be, here introduced for the first time. 
The earliest figures of angels are to be seen in the church of 
S. Agata; of apostles, in that of S. Giovanni in Fonte. The 
nimbus was a decoration of heathen origin, and was placed around 
the heads of gods and emperors. It would seem that previous to 
the sixth century it was applied to no Christian figure as such. 

1 The aureole is the nimbus for the whole body, usually oval. 


Where it is seen round the head of our Lord in the earlier mosaics, 
it is thought to have heen added by later hands. 

But the most notable departure from the earlier simplicity is in 
the Madonna. In the mosaics of Ravenna we have an outcome of 
the orthodox zeal kindled by the Nestorian Controversy ; we see 
the Virgin-mother with her Child, seated on her throne, the object 
of universal worship, and giving forth blessings as though she were 
God Himself. Henceforth the Virgin and Child becomes the 
leading subject of art, presented with every kind of variation, and 
employing the highest genius of each successive age. These he- 
switching representations are not without danger for the unwary 
mind ; and in the present age especially, when indifference, that 
deadly enemy of spiritual religion, has borrowed the name of 
charity, and the wholesome dread of Rome which acted as a 
restraint on our forefathers no longer exists, the seductive beauty 
of Italian art opens a wide door to error. That there is a real 
power in this fascination, such as may overcome true fidelity to 
Christ and to his first and great commandment, no one will deny. 
Mrs. Jameson writes of those " who refuse to give to this subject 
the honour due to a religious representation, yet regard it with a 
tender half-unwilling homage ; and when the glorified type of what 
is purest, loftiest, holiest in womanhood, stands before us, arrayed 
in all the majesty and beauty that accomplished art inspired by 
faith and love could lend her, and bearing her Divine Son, rather 
enthroned than sustained on her maternal bosom, we look, and 
the heart is in heaven ! ' and it is difficult, very difficult, to refrain 
from Or a pro Nobis." 1 

It is a wide-spread but mistaken belief that Christian worship is 
assisted by art. This belief is one of the results of looking to man 
for what can only come from God. The first century, during which 
the Church was a stranger to art, was the most glorious era of her 
history, and no epoch of Latin Christianity has been further re- 
moved from the faith and holy life of the primitive age, than that 
in which Raphael and Michael-Angelo exhausted their skill in 
adorning her temples. "In the teachings of the Saviour," writes 
Samuel Tuke, " there was much to show that ' Grace hath use of 
Nature ' : the dressing of the lily and the provision for the sparrows 
supply beautiful lessons on the universal providence of the Creator, 
and the trust which his superior creature Man might repose in Him. 

1 That these grand efforts of the pencil are necessarily or even generally 
J< inspired by faith and love," is a mere assumption, not borne out by fact. 
Some of the chief worshippers in the temple of the fine arts have been men of 
loose morals and doubtful faith. 


No idea, however, appears to have entered the minds of the early 
disciples that they were to set lilies and sparrows before them arti- 
ficially to stimulate their trust and confidence. . . . History abun- 
dantly shows that as that living faith which is the life-blood of true 
religion declined, so did men seek by dead forms, pageantries, and 
other varieties of human art to stir up something which was like 
the living power that had been more or less lost. This practice of 
imitation will be found running through all the history of the 
Church's depravation. Art raised up feelings in men's minds 
which were the imitations of those holy aspirations that came from 
God and breathe towards Him. The Gospel in its simplicity had 
been preached to the poor, and had wrought its miracles ; it had by 
the accompanying power of divine grace awakened dead souls, 
opened blind eyes, and the ear deaf to the sweetness of truth was 
made to hear and understand the words of eternal life. The 
changes were inward, but the effects were seen outwardly, and here 
was the door opened for human art to be exercised, and like the 
Egyptian sorcerers of old, it did somewhat ' likewise by its enchant- 
ments. 1 We cannot, I believe, have too much impressed upon our 
minds, that all the ingenious arts by which it has been attempted 
to quicken dormant souls to the sense of heavenly things, are but 
so many counterfeits of truth and seals upon error, by which men 
are prevented from seeking after and finding the true wisdom and 
riches. . . . The use of sensible imagery in religious teaching, and 
some imitations of the heathen mysteries, may be clearly traced in 
the second century, and still more largely in the third. In the 
fourth century the rites and institutions by which the Greeks, 
Eomans, and other nations had formerly testified their religious 
veneration for fictitious deities, were adopted with some slight 
alterations by Christian bishops and employed in the service of the 
true God. Thus art came to be restored in great measure to the 
place which she had formerly held in connection with religion ; and 
her sway and influence increased during the period which elapsed 
between what is called the conversion of Constantine, and the 
downfall of the Eoman Empire." So was it in the era of the 
Eenaissance : "It was just when superstition and profligacy were 
at their height in that which called itself the Church of Christ, and 
when wealth had again arisen to encourage them, that the fine arts 
also again made their appearance to hide by their adulterate de- 
corations the filthiness which was within. Licentious and profligate 
popes patronized those extraordinary efforts of the pencil by which 
the events of sacred story were transferred pictorially to the walls 
of the great Temple of Eome or of the Vatican. There was no 


incongruity between the grossest sensuality and impiety, and the 
love and admiration of the beautiful in nature as presented by the 
fine arts ; and though in the complicated operations of moral 
causes, it is not permitted us absolutely and certainly to analyse 
their several portions of influence, and though I am far from 
tracing the condition of the Church primarily to a love of the 
artificial, yet I think it bears the character of an important agent 
in the progress of deterioration, and that at least, by glozing over 
or hiding the real deformities and deadness of the Church, it tended 
greatly to obstruct the work of reformation." 

" The revival of the ancient world in the classical studies," to 
quote another Christian moralist, " pursued as it was in Italy with 
such passionate ardour, revived also the spirit of the ancient hea- 
thenism, harboured it in Home itself and upon the very throne of the 
Koman bishop, and threatened the world with a new heathenism, 
unless the Eeformation had averted this danger. . . Assuredly the 
arts and sciences flourished in Italy, in the Medicean era as they 
had never done before, as they have never done since, and adorned 
life with an unwonted refinement of manners and education. But 
the foundation of true morality was wanting. Classical studies 
resulted in a hitherto unheard of licentiousness in life and motive. 
. . . The most distinguished advocates of classical learning re- 
proach each other with sins which cannot be spoken of. Poggio 
wrote Jests (Facetiae) which can scarcely be equalled for vulgarity 
and immorality, and which yet went through twenty editions in 
thirty years. The heathen spirit, under the form of refinement 
and scientific interest, ruled at the Medicean court. The Platonic 
Academy at Florence put the Platonic philosophy in the place of 
Christianity ; and Savonarola strove with ardent zeal against 
heathen immorality and heathen belief as defended by the highest 
prelates. . . Macchiavelli says : ' We Italians are pre-eminently 
irreligious and wicked, because the Church, in the persons of its 
advocates, sets the worst example.' " 

The worship of the Virgin, as already said, was almost unknown 
before the Nestorian Controversy : the first Council of Ephesus 
denotes the era of its birth. 1 

The worship of the saints in general was familiar to men's 
minds for some time before the Virgin Mary became the especial 
object of adoration. The craving for human mediators between 
man and God, fostered by heathen influences and a one-sided 
theology, found its most complete satisfaction in the person of the 

1 See ante, p. 205. 


Virgin. "Directly," remarks Milman, "that Christian devotion 
expanded itself beyond its legitimate objects, . . . the Virgin- 
mother of the Saviour appeared to possess peculiar claims ta 
veneration. . . . The higher importance assigned to the female sex 
by Christianity, than by any other form of at least Oriental religion, 
powerfully tended to the general adoption of the worship of the 
Virgin. Women willingly deified this perfect representative of 
their own sex, while the sex was elevated in general sentiment by 
the influence ascribed to their all-powerful patroness. The ideal 
of this sacred being was the blending of maternal tenderness with 
perfect purity the two attributes of the female character which 
man, by his nature, seems to hold in the highest admiration and 

Let us trace the steps by which Mary-worship was developed. 
The first germ is to be found in the parallel which, in the second 
century, was drawn between the Virgin and Eve. The earliest 
writer who refers to this is Justin Martyr. "Eve, a virgin, con- 
ceived the word of the serpent, and brought forth disobedience and 
death ; but the virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel 
Gabriel announced the good tidings to her, and replied, ' Be it unto 
me according to thy word.' And from her was born He by whom 
God destroyed the serpent." Half a century later, this simple 
thought had developed in such a manner as already to trench on 
the Saviour's work of redemption. " If," says Irenaeus, " the 
virgin Eve disobeyed God, the virgin Mary was persuaded to be 
obedient to God, that she might become the advocate of the virgin 
Eve. Thus, as the human race fell into bondage unto death 
through a virgin, so is it rescued through a virgin." Again : " As 
Eve being disobedient, became the cause of death both to herself 
and to the whole human race, so Mary being obedient became the 
cause of salvation both to herself and to all mankind. . . . The 
knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed through the obedience of 
Mary." These Fathers are, however, entirely unconscious of the 
perfections which a later age discerned in Mary ; they speak of her 
just as they do of the other holy women of the New Testament, as 
simply human, liable to err, obnoxious to reproof. 

We have already spoken of Mary's " perpetual virginity." 1 The 
first champion of this doctrine, Epiphanius, is the first also in the 
orthodox Church to broach the utterly baseless idea, of her " As- 
sumption." " For myself, I am uncertain whether Mary died and 
was buried, or not." But so little was the Church of that day pre- 

1 See Early Church History, p. 282, and ante, p. 165. 


pared for the actual worship of the Virgin, that the same writer 
strongly reprehends the practice of certain women who came from 
Thrace into Arabia, and who were accustomed, on a fine day, once 
in the year, to spread a linen cloth on a car (or throne) and per- 
haps in imitation of the worship of Ceres offer on it to the Virgin a 
cake. "The whole thing," he says, "is foolish and .strange, 
and is a device and deceit of the Devil. Let Mary be in honour. 
Let the Lord be worshipped. Let no one worship Mary." 

By the end of the fourth century Mary's perpetual virginity had 
become an article of faith. Jerome (in 383) anathematizes Helvi- 
dius and Jovinian for maintaining that she bore children to Joseph 
after the birth of Jesus ; and a few years later, Bonosus, bishop of 
Sardica, was for the same offence deposed, and his church closed 
against him. A further step is attributed to Augustine, viz., the 
doctrine that Mary was free from actual, although not from 
original sin. 

We first meet with prayer to the Virgin towards the end of this 
century. Gregory Nazianzen (a.d. 389) tells of a woman who in a 
time of danger prayed to Mary for protection ; but neither Athana- 
sius, Basil, Chrysostom, nor Augustine supplies any example of 
such an invocation. 

It was, as already said, the Nestorian Controversy that gave the 
signal for the worship of Mary, raising her at once to the highest 
rank in the new Christian Pantheon. From the time when Nes- 
torius was condemned by the Council at Ephesus, the title of 
Theotokos (Mother of God), which had hitherto been used only by 
the Alexandrian School, became general. The Eutychians vied 
with the Catholics in the honour they paid to the Virgin ; and the 
Monophysite bishop of Antioch, Petrus Gnapheus, was the first to 
introduce her name into the prayers of his church (circa 470) . 1 
Churches and altars were everywhere dedicated to the "Holy 
Mother of God, the perpetual Virgin," and the picture of the Ma- 
donna and Child became the symbol of the orthodox faith. Every 
one who wished to prove his abhorrence of the arch-heretic Nes- 
torius exhibited on the walls of his house, or on his garments or 
furniture, the image of the maternal Virgin holding in her arms the 
Divine infant. 

The Apocryphal Gospels, which about this time began to find 
general acceptance, powerfully aided the development of Mary- 
worship. In these fabulous histories of our Lord and his Apostles, 
which had their origin amongst the Gnostics, and were for a long 

1 This practice appears not to have obtained in the Latin Church till the 
time of Pope Gregory the Great. 


time rejected by the Church, are contained marvellous stories con- 
cerning Mary the germs of those dogmas which in course of time 
became articles of faith. Soon the language addressed to her grew 
well nigh blasphemous. The opponents of Nestorius, Proclus who 
succeeded him at Constantinople, and Cyril bishop of Alexandria, 
could scarcely find words emphatic enough to express her transcen- 
dent glory. She is, " The spiritual Paradise of the second Adam, 
the living Bush of nature, the Sceptre of orthodoxy, the imperish- 
able Temple." Through her " heaven rejoices and the angels and 
archangels are glad, the devil is disarmed and banished, fallen man 
is restored to heaven, and every believing soul is saved." 

We add here an outline of the history of Mariolatry down to our 
own time. 

In the sixth century we find the Emperor Justinian imploring 
the Virgin's intercession with God at the dedication of the church 
of St. Sophia, and in general for the success of his administration. 
His general Narses was unwilling to join battle until he had 
received some token of her protection ; and the Emperor Heraclius 
(a.d. 610) had images of the Virgin on his masts when he sailed 
to Constantinople to overthrow Phocas. The Old Testament types 
and phophecies were now found to apply to the Virgin equally with 
the Saviour. Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople in the eighth 
century, finds in her, " the second tabernacle, the altar, the Holy 
of Holies, the Cherubim of glory, the burning bush, the temple 
gate entered by the Lord God which man might never open, the 
root of Jesse, the garden enclosed, the city of God, the Queen and 
the Bride." He thus addresses her. " Mistress, Mother of God, 
grant to all who celebrate this thy festival, thy help, shelter, and 
patronage, ever saving them through thy intercessions from all 
dangers, diseases, and calamities, and from the future threatening 
of thy Son, and establish them in the palace of delight." 

It remained for the learned and pious schoolman Bonaventura 
(in the thirteenth century), by a new device to intensify and popu- 
larize this anti-scriptural worship. In the Virgin's Psalter, ascribed 
to his pen, the Psalms are applied to Mary instead of to God. 1 It 
is a religious parody, and whilst as such it is abhorrent to our 
feelings, a few examples are necessary to show how far the Church 
of Borne has lost herself in the paths of idolatry. 

1 This book, whether from the hand of Bonaventura himself or of a con- 
temporary, is always printed in his name, and is at the present day a most 
popular work in France and Italy, editions being continually issued with the 
papal sanction. 


Psalm XV. 
Remember, Lady, and speak favourably for us, and avert from us the anger 

of thy Son. 

Psalm XXVI. 

Lady, I have loved the beauty of thy countenance, and I have venerated 
thy holy majesty. 

Confess her name because it is holy, and because her marvellous works are 
recounted throughout all ages. 

Psalm CXIX. 
Lead me in the path of thy mercies, thou most beautiful of women, for I 
have desired thee. 

How have I loved ihy law, Lady ; thy meditation is always present to me. 
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and an ineffable light unto my ways. 

In the Canticles and Hymns, printed with the Psalter, we find : 

1 will confess thee, Lady, because thou hast hid these things from the wise, 
and hast revealed them unto babes. 

Thy glory has covered the heavens, and the earth is full of thy mercy. 
As the child cannot live without its nurse, so cannot salvation be obtained 
without our Lady. 

At thy name let every knee bow, in heaven, on earth, and in hell. 

Other similar works of devotion might be quoted. In a modern 
volume in English issued under the highest authority we read : 

Modern heretics cannot endure that we should salute and call Mary our 
Hope. They say that God alone is our Hope, and that He curses those who put 
their trust in creatures. This is what the heretics say ; but, in spite of it, the 
Holy Church obliges all ecclesiastics and religious each day to invoke and call 
Mary by the sweet name of our Hope the Hope of all. 

Immaculate Virgin, prevent thy beloved Son, who is irritated by our sins, 
from abandoning us to the power of the devil. . . . Through thee we have been 
reconciled to God. Thou art the salvation of the whole world. 

We often obtain more promptly what we ask by calling on the name of Mary, 
than by invoking that of Jesus. 

Jesus himself said, Were it not for the prayers of my Mother, there would be 
no hope of mercy. 

Mary so loved the world as to give her only-begotten Son. 1 

1 The Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Maria de 
Liguori. He founded the Order of the Redemptionists in 1732, and died in 
1782. The Imprimatur runs thus : " We hereby approve of this translation of 
the Glories of Mary, and cordially recommend it to the faithful. Nicholas 
Card. Wiseman, Archbishop of Westminster, a.d. 1852." " We heartily com- 
mend this translation of the Glories of Mary to all the disciples of her Divine 
Son. |J( Henry E. Archbishop of Westminster [Cardinal Manning], Aug. 11, 
1868." Unhappily the Anglican Church, in this as in so many other articles, 
is doing her best to overtake Rome. Since the publication of our first edition, 
we have met with the following Hymn to the Virgin, in a volume of Guild 
Hymns in use in one of our large towns : 


What is this but the "mouth speaking blasphemies"? (Eev. 
xiii. 5.) 

The Ave-Maria takes its name from Gabriel's salutation, " Hail 
Mary," and consists of Luke i. 28 and 42, with this addition, made 
in the beginning of the sixteenth century, " Holy Mary, Mother 
of God, pray for us sinners, both now and in the hour of death. 
Amen." It is placed in the Komish Missal on a level with the 
Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed, and with them forms the 
basis of the Eosary. 1 

The earliest festivals in honour of the Virgin, the Annunciation 
and the Purification, cannot be traced back further than the sixth 
century. The latter was also called Candlemas, from the multitude 
of candles which were then lighted, as was formerly done in the 
heathen festival of the Lupercalia, in the same month of February. 2 
The feast of the Assumption, founded on the Gnostic legend of 
her translation to Heaven, became at Eome, in the ninth cen- 
tury, one of the chief festivals. Several others were added in later 

Our sketch would be imperfect without a brief notice of the de- 
bated doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This innovation 
having been propounded about a.d. 1140, by some canons of Lyons, 
drew down upon them the rebuke of the great Bernard : " On the 
same principle you would be obliged to hold that the conception of 
her ancestors in an ascending line was also a holy one ; since she 
could not otherwise have descended from them after a worthy man- 
ner, and there would be festivals without number. . . . We ought 

" Mother of Mercy ! day by day, 

My love of thee grows more and more ; 
Thy gifts are strewn upon my way, 
Like sands upon the great sea-shore. 

Get me the grace to love thee more ; 

Jesus will give it if thou plead : 
And Mother ! when life's cares are o'er, 

O, I shall love thee then indeed ! " 

1 The origin of the Rosary is thus stated by Gieseler : " Ever since virtue 
was supposed to attach to frequent repetitions of forms of prayer, people natur- 
ally were in want of means for facilitating and securing the enumeration of 
them. Thus an Egyptian monk, Paulus, used to count his prayers by the help 
of stones ; Godiva, an English countess (about a.d. 1040), by a lace. In the thir- 
teenth century a medallion with sacred symbols on it, set round with knobs for 
counting, was in use. . . . The Rosary is first heard of among the Dominicans 
as early as 1270, under the technical name of the Paternoster." 

1 When Ceres searched with candles for her daughter Proserpine, carried by 
Pluto into the regions below. 


not to attribute to Mary that which belongs to Him only who being 
Himself free from sin can make others holy. Except Him, all who' 
are descended from Adam must say of themselves that which one 
of them says in the name of all, In sin did my mother conceive 
me.' " x And a century afterwards the doctrine was attacked by the 
celebrated Dominican, Thomas Aquinas, so vigorously, that he was 
thought to have utterly overthrown and chased it into oblivion. 
But his great successor and opponent in the philosophy of the 
Schoolmen, the Franciscan Duns Scotus, took the fugitive dogma 
under his protection, and made of it the battle-cry of the Fran- 
ciscan order. Eound this symbol the two puissant armies waged 
long and deadly war. When the Franciscans appealed to the reve- 
lations made to St. Birgitta (Bridget) in favour of the Immaculate 
Conception, the Dominicans opposed to them the visions of a sister 
of their own order, the celebrated Catharine of Siena. But as usual 
credulity was stronger than reason. Christendom in general, and 
the University of Paris in particular, declared itself (a.d. 1389) in 
favour of the Immaculate Conception. Several Dominican doctors 
were forced to recant, and all candidates for academical degrees 
were obliged to subscribe to the new doctrine. 2 Since then it has 
become more and more deeply rooted in the Koman Catholic mind. 
In 1746 Pope Sixtus IV. appointed an annual festival in honour of 
it ; and in 1854, in the most solemn manner, it was adopted as an 
article of faith by a general council held at Borne. 


The life of a good man, under whose laws a vast number of the in- 
habitants of Western Europe have lived for thirteen centuries, must 
needs be worthy of our notice. Benedict, and Pope Gregory the 
Great, who wrote his biography, are the principal Churchmen of 
the sixth century. 8 Yet the actual materials of Benedict's history 

1 Bernard however held that, " like the Baptist and Jeremiah " (!), Mary was, 
before her birth, cleansed from original sin. 

2 In 1509 four Dominicans were burnt at Berne for getting up fraudulent 
appearances of saints in order to discredit it. 

8 Gregory was three years old at the death of Benedict. A halo of legend 
encircled Benedict's head even during his life, and his miracles probably, as in 
the case of Martin of Tours, gathered little by the lapse of time. 


are comparatively scanty, and every incident of his life is wrapped 
in a thick haze of miraculous interposition. 

Jovinian and Benedict were both monks, but their experience of 
the cloister, and their convictions as to the means by which the 
Church was to be renovated, led them in wholly opposite directions. 
The one saw that without a return to first principles and New 
Testament teacbing, the plague which was wasting the Church 
could never be stayed ; the other believed that the monastic life 
upon which the Church had entered was her true course, and that 
what was needed was only to give to it its proper direction and 
consistency. , 

A century had elapsed since Jerome, Martin of Tours, and John 
Cassianus made Europe familiar with the monastic institution. 
The monastery at Marseilles, founded by Cassianus in the early 
part of the fifth century, was a centre of Christian influence, and 
amid the disorders caused by the marauding incursions of the 
northern tribes, proved a great blessing to the people. From this 
convent and its branches had gone forth many pious and laborious 
bishops. But by the end of this distracted century, the spirit of 
monasticism had declined and its discipline grown lax, and the 
monks are described as roaming over the country, corrupting both 
manners and religion. 

Benedict was born at Nursia in Central Italy, 1 a.d. 480. At the 
age of twelve he was, according to a custom which prevailed, sent 
to Borne to be instructed in the liberal arts ; but his pure young 
spirit shrank from the corruption which he saw everywhere around 
him. He longed for solitude, and at the end of two years fled 
from Borne, accompanied for the first twenty-four miles by the 
nurse whom his parents had sent with him, and who from affection 
was unwilling to leave him. But Benedict still pursuing his object, 
escaped from her, and proceeding further, stopped at a small village 
not far from the town of Subiaco. 2 The rustic inhabitants, pleased 
with his modesty and sweetness of disposition, allowed him to take 
up his abode in a cell near their church. Here he fell in with a 
monk named Bomanus, who took him to a cavern not far from his 
own cloister ; and in this rude shelter the delicately-nurtured boy 
found a home. His scanty food was secretly supplied by Bomanus 
from his own small pittance. The cave lay at the foot of the cliff 
on which the monastery stood ; as there was no path down the 
rock, the bread was lowered by a rope, a small bell being attached 

1 In Umbria, midway between Eome and Ancona. 
2 Fifty miles east of Rome. 


to give warning. So entirely was Benedict cut off from the world 
that he ceased to mark even the fasts and festivals of the Church. 
At the end of three years his hiding-place was discovered by some 
shepherds, who at first mistook him for a wild beast, but when 
they drew near, were melted into kindness by his gentle eloquence. 
Henceforth the story of his life is a renewal of the experiences of 
Paul and Anthony in the desert of the Thebais. There are the 
same heroic conflicts with the natural passions, 1 the same deadly 
battles with the evil one under various disguises, the same prodi- 
gality of miracles wrought often for the most trivial purposes. 

Benedict's fame spread through the country, and the place of 
abbot in a neighbouring convent falling vacant, the office was con- 
ferred on him. His strength of will was equal to the sweetness of 
his temper, and he warned the monks beforehand of the discipline 
which he should think it his duty to enforce. This he did with so 
much severity, that in a short time their love was turned to hatred, 
and they attempted to poison him. He mildly reproved them, 
prayed that they might be forgiven, and withdrew again to his 
grotto. This was no longer a solitude. The fame of his miracles 
and sanctity drew multitudes to him even from a distance. The 
breaking up of society, consequent on the repeated irruptions of the 
northern nations, and the rapid changes in government, possessions, 
and creed, drove men to seek shelter from the storms of the world 
in that recluse life which promised security from earthly vicissi- 
tudes. Men of consideration at Rome placed their sons with Bene- 
dict that he might educate them for the ascetic life ; even Goths of 
the lower ranks came to him, and these he employed in the labour 
of the field and the garden. In a short time there sprang up in 
that romantic region, on the peaks of the hills, and under the oaks 
and chestnuts which clothed the ravines, twelve monasteries, each 
containing twelve monks under a superior. 

But Benedict could not remain at Subiaco. To rid himself of an 
envious priest, who plotted against his life and assailed the con- 
tinency of his monks, he withdrew with a few followers to Monte 
Casino, fifty miles to the south-east, where they took up their abode 
in the ruins of an ancient castle. On this mountain stood a temple 
of Apollo in the midst of its sacred grove, and the peasants still 
brought their offerings to the pagan altar. By his eloquent 
preaching Benedict diverted the people from their idolatry, taught 
them the faith of the Gospel, and persuaded them to demolish the 

8 Effectually to mortify his sensual appetite, he one day stripped off his only 
vestment of skins, and rolled himself in a clump of thorns and briars which 
was near his grotto. 


stately edifice, with its altar, statue and grove. He erected in its 
place a chapel, dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, and a monastery, 
the germ of that " great model republic which gave its laws to 
almost the whole of Western Monasticism." Here about the year 
529 1 he framed his celebrated Rule, ' an enduring monument of 
his own spirit, and of the new shaping which, through his instru- 
mentality, was given to the ccenobitic life of the West." 

In the Benedictine scheme the abbot is the representative of 
Christ ; to him therefore all are to yield obedience, ready, cheerful 
and implicit. Candidates are admitted for a year on probation, at 
the end of which time they take upon themselves the irrevocable 
vow. From the beginning poverty, chastity and obedience had 
been indispensable to the profession of a monk ; Benedict made 
the last still more absolute, and added what was known as the Vow 
of steadfastness. Henceforth the door of the monastery opened only 
inwards. Formerly, if the monk forsook his cell and married he 
was liable to penance, but his marriage was not annulled ; now, 
such marriages were declared, ipso facto, void, and the offender was 
compelled to return. The vow, written out, was laid upon the 
altar, those who could not write signing it with their mark. The 
property of the novice, if not already given to the poor, was added 
to the common stock of the brotherhood. The beds of the monks 
were often searched, and punishment followed the appropriation of 
any valuables. No letters or presents, even from the nearest kin- 
dred, were to be received without leave of the abbot, who might 
transfer any gift to another than the one for whom it was intended. 
'The abbot in his turn, although absolute, was admonished by the 
Bule, to temper the severity of discipline with the spirit of love ; 
he should show mercy and gentleness to the brethren while he 
hated their faults ; his own fallibility should ever be present with 
him, and he should remember that " the bruised reed is not to be 

" The three occupations enjoined by Benedict's system were the 
worship of God, reading, and manual labour. The adventitious 
advantages of the monastery were not contemplated by the founder ; 
the object was not to make the wilderness blossom with fertility, to 
extend the arts of civilized life into barbarous regions ; it was solely 
to employ in engrossing occupation that portion of time which 
could not be devoted to worship and [meditation] ." And in regard 
to learning and study, in which of later times the Benedictines 

1 The same year in which the ancient classic schools of Athens were closed 
by order of Justinian. The two events mark a dividing line between ancient 
And mediaeval history. 


have so highly distinguished themselves, this was an innovation 
quite foreign to the ideas of the founder himself, whom his bio- 
grapher describes as " learnedly ignorant, and wisely unlearned." 
Its introduction was perhaps chiefly due to the influence of Cassio- 
dorus, a contemporary of Benedict, who in 538 laid aside the high 
office which he held in the State, and retired from the world in 
order to found a monastery at Vivarium in Calabria. 1 

The monastic day was equally divided between religious exercises 
and labour. Seven times 2 in the twenty-four hours prayers were 
chanted by the brotherhood, commencing at dawn with matins, 
before which vigils had been sung already. The psalms were dis- 
tributed among these services in such a manner that they should 
all be chanted every week. Much time was spent in learning them 
by rote and in reading the Scriptures, Cassianus's Conferences, the 
Lives of the Saints, and other "edifying books." At meals there 
was reading aloud and no conversation was permitted. During 
harvest the monks did not return to the house, but knelt and per- 
formed their religious service in the fields. Manual labour was 
varied by the teaching of children, sent to reside in the cloister or 
in daily attendance from the neighbouring village. As time went 
on this occupation became of more and more importance, and gave 
its literary shape to the Benedictine societies. 

In regard to abstinence the Kule was less severe than amongst 
the Eastern monks. It was not however from choice that Benedict 
admitted a relaxation of the ancient severity ; he did so unwillingly, 
and only in condescension to what was then supposed to be the 
gradually decreasing vigour of the human frame! The monks 
were cooks and servitors by turn. At the end of the week, the one 
who went off duty and he who took his place were to wash the feet 
of the rest. Two sorts of grain or vegetables were served for 
dinner, with fruit or salad, and sometimes fish or eggs, with a 
small measure of wine. A pound of bread a day was allowed to 
each. Indulgence was shown to the aged and sick. From Easter 
to Pentecost there was no fast ; from Pentecost till the end of Sep- 
tember there were fasts on two days of the week ; the rest of the year 
to Easter was a perpetual fast, with only one (evening) meal a day. 
In Lent a still more rigorous abstinence was enjoined, not from 
food only, but from sleep and speech. It was strictly forbidden to 

1 Cassiodorus caused his monks to transcribe even the ancient classics, by 
which means some at least escaped destruction. 

a This number is taken from Psalm cxix. 164. They were (besides vigils), 
matins (morning), prime (early), tierce, sexte, nones (third, sixth, ninth hour), 
vespers (even-tide), and compline (completion of the day). 


partake of food without the walls ; if a brother was obliged to be 
absent the whole day, the Kule required him to fast until his return. 
To take away occasions of absence, every monastery contained 
within its enclosure a mill, a well, a bakehouse, and all other 
needful appliances. When a monk was sent out on necessary 
business he was forbidden on his return to dissipate the minds of 
the brethren by relating his adventures. The occupation of every 
monk was determined by the abbot, and if any one prided himself 
on his skill in any art or handicraft the Eule required him to 
abandon it ! The laws of commercial economy being then but 
little understood, the monasteries, to escape the reproach of covet- 
ousness, were accustomed to sell their productions under the market 

The clothing consisted of a coarse tunic or robe with long sleeves, 
which served as a shirt; at first white, afterwards changed to 
black. For the offices of the choir, the monks put on a large 
mantle with, a cowl, also black, and a scapulary, consisting of two 
pieces of cloth joined round the neck with a hood, and hanging, 
one part in front, the other behind. 1 Unlike the Oriental monks, 
they wore shoes and stockings ; their girdle was narrow and of 
leather. Each had two suits which he himself kept in repair. 
They slept in their clothes, shoes and girdle, in dormitories of ten 
or twenty, in separate beds, the young and old intermixed, with a 
deacon to each chamber. The penalty for light faults was the 
smaller excommunication, i. e., eating alone after the others had 
done. For graver faults, separation from the table, from prayers 
and from the community, personal chastisement, and last of all 

Silence, humility, obedience, these were the cardinal virtues of 
the cloister life. " Everything," remarks Milman, " was con- 
centrated on self. It was a man isolated from his kind who was to 
rise to a lonely perfection ; all the social, all patriotic virtues were 
excluded." Humility was confounded with slavish fear, and a 
false importance was attached to the outward demeanour. Bene- 
dict took no account of the Lord's plain injunction : " Thou when 
thou fasteth anoint thy head and wash thy face, that thou be not 
seen of men to fast." Like Basil and Gregory, he thought it 
necessary that the temper of the mind should be exhibited in the 
postures of the body. 2 The head was to be constantly bowed down ; 

1 " This was nothing else than the hooded frock of the ploughman and shep- 
herd, borrowed from that of the slave in pagan times, such as Columella has 

8 See ante, p. 22. 


the eyes directed to the earth ; the thoughts to be hourly occupied 
in self-accusation for sin ; and the brethren were to cultivate the 
state of mind proper to those who might at any moment appear 
before the Divine Judgment-seat. Benedict persuaded himself that 
this was the discipline which made men free. "When," he says, 
" the monk has passed through all these stages of humility, he will 
attain to that love of God, which being perfect casts out fear, and 
will begin to practise naturally and from custom all those rules 
which he before observed through fear." * 

Not long before his death Benedict was visited by the great 
Totila, at the head of his victorious Ostrogoths. To test his pro- 
phetic spirit the king dressed one of his captains in his own royal 
robes and purple boots, gave him a numerous escort, and sent him 
up to the monastery to present himself as the king. The moment 
Benedict perceived the captain, " My son," he cried, "put off the 
dress thou hast on, it is not thine." Totila himself afterwards 
ascended the hill, and fell prostrate at the abbot's feet. Benedict 
raised him up, solemnly rebuked him for the cruelties he had 
committed, and (so it is said) foretold his conquest of Borne, his. 
passage over to Sicily and Greece, his reign of nine years, and his 
death during the tenth. The greater humanity which distinguished 
Totila's conduct of the war from this time is attributed to his inter- 
view with the saint. 

Benedict's twin sister, Scholastica, was as devout as himself, and 
equally powerful in attracting and ruling her own sex. She also is 
reported to have wrought miracles. Her convent was not far from 
his : they met however once only in each year. When she lay on 
her death-bed, about the year 543, he came to visit her, expecting 
it might be for the last time. With the sisterly affection which 
her artificial manner of life had not been able to quench, she 
entreated him to rest for the night under her roof. He had never 
passed a night out of his own monastery, and he refused, even at 
her solicitation, to break his rule. Scholastica bowed her head in 
prayer. Suddenly the serene sky was overcast, lightnings flashed 
and thunders pealed above them, and the rain fell in torrents. 
" The Lord have mercy upon thee, my sister," said Benedict, 
" what hast thou done ? " "I prayed to thee," she replied, " and 

1 "The Catholic Church has recognized three other rules besides that of St. 
Benedict, viz. : 1. That of St. Basil, which is still retained by the Oriental 
monks. 2. That of St. Augustine, which is adopted by the regular canons, the 
order of the preaching brothers or Dominicans, and several military orders. 
3. The rule of St. Francis of Assisi and his Mendicant order in the thirteenth 



thou wouldst not hearken to me, but the Lord has heard my prayer. 
Go now if thou canst." They passed the night together in spiritual 
conversation. " Three days afterwards Benedict, from the window 
of his cell, saw his sister soar up to heaven in the form of a dove." 
He survived her only forty days. A violent fever seized him. He 
ordered her tomb to be opened, and caused himself on the sixth day 
to be carried into the chapel, where, supported by his monks, he 
received the viaticum. Then standing beside the open grave, at the 
foot of the altar, with his arms extended, he breathed out his spirit 
in prayer. 

It was an era of convulsion in the political world. The fall of 
the Gothic monarchy and the recon quest of Italy by the generals of 
Justinian were succeeded by the invasion of the Lombards, under 
their king Alboin, in 568. Arian in name, but still half-pagan in 
their nature, they crossed the Alps, and poured themselves down 
upon the plains of Italy. So sweeping was the devastation they 
wrought that the end of the world was thought to have come. 
They were especially furious against the monasteries ; and in 580 
they attacked the sanctuary of Monte Casino by night, pillaged and 
burnt it. The monks all escaped, bearing with them, as their 
entire fortune, the Rule written by their founder, with the day's 
measure of wine and pound of bread which he had prescribed. 
Benedict is said to have foreseen the event in prophetic vision. A 
nobleman with whom he lived on familiar terms found him one 
day weeping bitterly. After watching him for a long time, and 
perceiving that his tears did not cease, and that they did not pro- 
ceed from the ordinary fervour of his prayers but from profound 
melancholy, the nobleman asked the cause. Benedict answered : 
" This house which I have built and all that I have prepared for 
my brethren has been delivered up to the pagans by the sentence of 
Almighty God ; scarcely have I been able to obtain that their lives 
shall be spared." 

But ere he died, Benedict was comforted, so we are told, by 
another vision. He saw his Rule go forth over all Europe, and 
monasteries of his order rise up in every part of the Western 
world. And thus, indeed, it came to pass. Except during the 
temporary prevalence of Columbanus' Rule in France, that of Bene- 
dict was paramount in Europe until the thirteenth century, when the 
Dominicans and Franciscans partially eclipsed it ; it formed the 
model for all other monastic orders, and was the prolific nursery of 
missionaries, authors, bishops and popes. 



( 245 ) 


Gregory the Great. 

The pontificate of Gregory marks an epoch in the history of the 
<Jhurch. In him the papacy came to maturity. Leo the Great 
possessed superior genius and ambition ; but in his days there was 
still a power higher than the Church, viz., the Empire. By the 
time of Gregory a great change had taken place. The Western 
Empire fell in 476, and although in the next century Belisarius 
and Narses had recovered Italy for the Byzantine Emperors, it was 
but an ephemeral flicker of the expiring flame. The political 
horizon had fallen to a dead level, the only figure which rises 
above it is the Roman pontiff. 

With Gregory we stand on the threshold of the Middle Ages. 
The classic world of antiquity has disappeared. The language of 
Borne has almost ceased to be vernacular, and is soon only to be 
met with in the courts of law, the Church and the cloister. 
Scarcely is there to be found a single man of genius or learning 
either in the East or in the West. The Eastern Church, sunk 
down under its own corruptions and the weight of Byzantine des- 
potism, is soon to become an easy prey to the Moslem conquerors. 
The Church of the West is compared by Gregory himself to "an 
old and shattered ship, admitting the waters on all sides, her 
timbers rotten and shaken by daily storms and premonitions of 

In the person of Gregory the bishop of Rome first became in act 
and influence, if not in avowed authority, a temporal sovereign. 
" His acts," writes Milman, " were not the ambitious encroach- 
ments of ecclesiastical usurpation, but were forced upon him by the 
purest motives, if not by absolute necessity. The virtual sove- 
reignty fell to him as abdicated by the neglect or powerlessness of 
its rightful owners ; he must assume it, or leave the city and the 
people to anarchy." 

Gregory was high-born 1 and wealthy, and had for some years 
filled the office of Roman praetor ; but the monastic life of Monte 
Casino captivated him, and on his father's death he abandoned his 
high office and professed himself a Benedictine monk. He sold his 

1 He was born about a.d. 540. 


patrimony, and the wealthy patrician who had been used to traverse 
the city in silk and jewels, now, habited like a beggar, was to be 
seen waiting on the beggars in the hospital of the monastery, 
which he had built at the gate of his paternal mansion. He prac- 
tised the austerities of the order with the utmost rigour, eating 
nothing but pulse which his mother sent him ready soaked in a 
silver porringer. This porringer, which was the only relic of his 
former splendour, did not long remain in his hands, for one day a 
shipwrecked sailor coming to beg of him as he was writing in his 
cell, Gregory finding no money in his purse, gave him the bowl. 
Constant fasts and vigils reduced him to such a state of debility 
that he was scarcely able to stand. 

Gregory founded six monasteries in Sicily beside that in which 
he lived at Eome. The fame of his abstinence and charity took, as 
was usual in that age, the form of miracle, and his monastery was 
the perpetual scene of preternatural wonders. It was whilst he was 
still in the convent that the well-known incident took place which 
led to the conversion of our Saxon ancestors ; it will be related in 
the next chapter. At first it was Gregory's purpose himself to 
carry the Gospel into our remote and at that time barbarous island. 
He extorted the unwilling consent of the Pope (Pelagius II.) to 
leave his monastery for this purpose, and had actually set forth and 
travelled three days' journey, when he was overtaken by mes- 
sengers sent to recall him. " All Eome had risen in pious mutiny 
and compelled the Pope to revoke his permission." 

Soon after his return Italy became a scene of misery and desola- 
tion. The Lombards were wasting the peninsula ; the feeble 
exarch of Eavenna confessed he had no power to withstand them ; 
the Tiber at Eome overflowed and swept away the granaries of 
corn, and a pestilence ensued to which the pope Pelagius fell an 
early victim, a.d. 590. A successor had to be found ; with one 
voice the clergy, the senate and the people summoned Gregory to 
the vacant chair. The prospect of the honour was a burden to 
him ; he wrote to the Eastern Emperor, Maurice, entreating him 
to withhold the Imperial consent ; but his letter was intercepted, 
a general petition for his promotion was substituted, and an Im- 
perial rescript was received, confirming his election. 

11 Monasticism ascended the papal throne in the person of Gre- 
gory. In austerity, in devotion, in imaginative superstition, he 
was a monk to the end of his days." Nevertheless he possessed an 
extraordinary capacity for business, and devoted himself to his 
manifold duties " with the hurried restlessness of the most 
ambitious statesman. Nothing seems too great, nothing too 


insignificant for his earnest personal solicitude; from the most 
minute point in the ritual, or regulations ahout the papal farms in 
Sicily, he passes to the conversion of Britain, the extirpation of 
simony amongst the clergy of Gaul, negotiations with the armed 
conquerors of Italy, or the revolutions of the Eastern Empire." 
But in the midst of all he panted for the retirement and quiet of 
his monastic life. " "When I lived in the cloister my soul could 
almost always keep in a disposition for prayer. But since I have 
undertaken the pastoral office, my distracted soul can hardly ever 
collect itself. . . . What sort of watchman am I, who stand not on 
the height of a mountain, but in the valley of weakness ? But the 
Creator and Bedeemer of men is able to impart to me, unworthy as 
I am, vigour of life and power of tongue, if from love to Him I do 
not spare myself." 

The Boman Liturgy, with the service of the Mass, was settled 
by Gregory almost in the same form in which it has remained to 
the present day. He arranged the order of processions and the 
vestments of the priests and deacons. His attention to church 
music is perpetuated in the Gregorian Chant ; he not only instituted 
a singing school, but himself taught the choristers, and the whip 
with which he admonished his inattentive scholars was preserved 
as a relic for centuries. 1 

Gregory's pontificate lasted thirteen years. He died a.d. 604, at 
the early age of 54. In his latter years he suffered much in body. 
"For nearly two years," he writes to the patriarch of Alexandria, 
11 1 have been imprisoned in my bed by such pangs of gout, that I 
c an scarcely rise on great holidays to celebrate solemn mass. And 
the intensity of the pain compels me immediately to lie down again, 
that I may be able to endure my torture by giving free course to 
my groans." 

Gregory's character exhibits in a striking light the contradictions 
of his age and of his office. He was charitable yet severe, humble 
yet ambitious, a lover of truth and yet could stoop to gross flattery, 
a proficient in the science of his day and a diligent expositor of 
Scripture, and yet immersed in the credulity and superstition which 
commonly belongs to ignorance. 

On the great question of Slavery, Gregory was an example to the 

1 John the Deacon gives a humorous account of the attempts of the Germans 
(or Gauls), two or three centuries afterwards, to perform the Gregorian Chant: 
" Their thundering Alpine voices issuing from throats rasped with wine, vainly 
strive to give back the sweet modulation of the chant, instead of which a din 
like that of waggons rumbling over the stones disturbs and exasperates the 


Western Church, constituting himself the protector of what was 
perhaps still the most numerous class of the population. Un- 
happily, however, he was unable to put a stop to the slave-trade 
which was in the hands of the Jews. On the manumission of two 
slaves he had a deed drawn up with these golden words in the pre- 
amble: " It is a good and salutary thing when men whom nature 
created free, and whom the law of nations has enslaved, are 
presented again with the liberty in which they were born." The 
Western Churches, it may be remarked, were far behind their 
Oriental brethren on this point. The Eastern monks refused to 
keep slaves, not only because they themselves performed the most 
menial work, but because they would not thus degrade the image 
of God. The good abbot Isidore of Pelusium, 1 interceding with a 
nobleman on behalf of one of his slaves, wrote that "he could 
hardly believe that a friend of Christ, who had experienced the 
grace which makes all men free, could still own slaves." John 
surnamed the Alms-Giver, patriarch of Alexandria from 606 to 616, 
thus reproved some who treated their slaves with cruelty : " God 
has not given us servants that we should beat them, but that they 
may serve us ; perhaps not even for this purpose, but rather that 
they may receive sustenance out of our abundance. Tell me what 
price can purchase him who was created after the image of God ? 
Hast thou who art his master a single member more to thy body, 
or hast thou a different soul from him? Is he not in all things thy 
equal ? Pray, what is the gold which is paid for the right to make 
a slave of him, for whose sake heaven, earth and sea, and all that 
is therein were created ; to whom angels minister ; on whose 
account Christ washed the disciples' feet ; for whose sake Christ 
was crucified?" 

Devoted as Gregory was to ritualism, he yet, like Ambrose, caused 
the consecrated vessels of the altar to be sold for the redemption of 
captives taken in war. To say that Gregory considered the poor 
"would not be to say much of a Eoman bishop ; his almsgiving was 
on the most princely scale. The first day in every month he dis- 
tributed corn, wine, cheese, vegetables, bacon, meat, fish and oil ; 
and every day before he sat down to his own meal, a portion was 
separated and sent out to the hungry at his door. Being told that 
a beggar had died of want in the city, he imposed on himself a hard 
penance as a punishment for the neglect of his stewardship. A 
bishop newly appointed refusing to relieve some poor aged persons 
who were on a journey, Gregory sent him a message. ** It seems 

1 He died a.d. 431. 


strange to me that one who has clothes, silver, and a cellar, should 
have nothing to give to the poor. Tell him that reading and 
prayer will not now be enough, that he cannot be suffered to sit 
alone in a corner ; he must help the necessitous, he must regard 
the wants of others as his own, otherwise his title of bishop will be 
only an empty name." l 

With all his benevolence, Gregory's government of his monastery 
was severe in the extreme. Many who embraced the monastic life 
became weary of its monotony and sought to return to the world ; 
for such he had no pity. Nor was he more indulgent to the faults 
of those who remained under his charge, He forgot Benedict's 
injunction not to break the bruised reed. A monk named Justus, 
formerly a physician, attended him skilfully and with affectionate 
care during a long illness. Justus on his death-bed confessed to 
his brother that he possessed three pieces of gold. This was in 
direct violation of the rule of the house. The money was found 
concealed amongst some drugs, and Gregory resolved to make the 
offender sensible of the enormity of his trespass, and to awe the 
brotherhood by the terror of his example. He suffered no one to 
approach the dying man's couch, sending him only the message 
that he died detested by all the community. And when the miser- 
able man had breathed his last, his body, together with the three 
pieces of gold, was cast out upon the dung-hill, the whole convent 
shouting : " Thy money perish with thee ! " At the end of thirty 
days Gregory began to relent, and permitted mass to be offered for 
the tormented soul. This was repeated daily for thirty days more, 
when the spirit of Justus is said to have appeared to his abbot and 
assured him of his release from misery. 

The extravagant pretensions of the see of Rome, which had been 
handed down from bishop to bishop for successive generations, lost 
nothing in Gregory's hands. The thorn in his flesh during his 
later days, was the attempt of the patriarch John of Constantinople 
to set up a rival claim for his own see, by assuming the title of 
Universal Bishop. In resisting this claim Gregory tries to persuade 
himself that he is opposing John in the common interests of the 
Church. "Is this the time chosen by an arbitrary prelate to invade 
the undoubted rights of St. Peter by a haughty and pompous title ? 
Am I defending my own cause ? Is this any special injury to the 

1 A great volume recording the name, age and dwelling of the objects of Gre- 
gory's bounty was long preserved in the Lateran. Economically speaking, the 
harm of such indiscriminate charity, in pauperising its objects, probably far 
outweighed the good that was effected. The papal bounty too may have been 
.a measure of policy, the continuance of the Imperial largess which the Eoman 
citiaens were accustomed to expect. 


bishop of Eome ? It is the cause of God, the cause of the whole 
Church. Let all Christian hearts reject the blasphemous name. 
Whoever calls himself universal bishop is Anti-Christ." How 
Gregory or his successors have reconciled these words with their 
own assumptions, it is not easy to see. To us they seem to be the 
language of self-deception. The papacy never yields and never 
forgets, and it is fair to conclude that Gregory's indignant protest 
w as directed not so much against the title as against the usurpation 
of it by his rival. 1 

The darkest stain on the memory of this distinguished man is 
found in connection with this rivalry. The Emperor Maurice, who 
seems always to have thwarted even the best of Gregory's measures, 
countenanced the claims of the patriarch of Constantinople, and 
was besides himself reputed a heretic. His end was tragical. 
Phocas, a soldier of fortune, " an odious and sanguinary tyrant," 
having risen in rebellion against him, caused Maurice to be dragged 
from the sanctuary to which he had fled, and with his five sons to 
be butchered before his face. The news of the death of the 
Emperor filled Gregory with exultation, and he launched out into 
a panegyric on the base usurper : " Glory to God in the highest ! 
who has chosen thee and placed thee on the Imperial throne to 
banish by thy merciful dispositions all our afflictions and sorrows. 
Let the whole people return thanks for so happy a change." 

The new Christian idolatry which had grown up during the 
fourth and fifth centuries had by this time become universal, 
entering into the daily life of all Christendom. Every man was 
surrounded by a world of invisible beings angels, whose visits 
were rare, demons who were continually on the watch to seduce the 
unwary, and glorified saints who had become the protectors of 
mankind in the place of God and Christ. The literature of the age 
(and Gregory's pages are no exception) teems with this invisible 
world. In his Dialogues, for example, a woman who eats a lettuce 
without making the sign of the cross, swallows with it a devil and 
becomes possessed. The relics of the martyrs, those priceless 
jewels of the Church, had now attained a self-defensive power; 
profane hands touching them were withered, and such as endea- 
voured to remove them were struck dead. " One of the golden [?] 
nails of the chains of St. Peter tempted the avarice of a Lombard 
(probably an Arian) ; he took out his knife to sever it ; the awe- 
struck knife sprang up and cut his sacrilegious throat. The Lom- 

1 Cardinal Bellarmine endeavours to escape the difficulty by assuming that 
the term episcopus universalis is used in two very different senses. 


bard King and his attendants were witnesses of the miracle, and 
stood in terror, not daring to lift the fearful nail from the ground. 
A Catholic was fortunately found, by whom the nail permitted itself 
to be touched ; this peerless gift, so avouched, Gregory presented 
to a distinguished civil officer." When the Empress Constantina, 
the consort of Maurice, applied to Gregory for the head of the 
apostle Paul or at least some portion of his body, to place in a 
church she was building, Gregory replied: "I neither can nor dare 
grant that favour, for the bodies of the holy apostles, Peter and 
Paul, are so resplendent with miracles and terrific prodigies in their 
own churches, that no one can approach them without great awe,, 
even for the purpose of adoring them. ... I wished to make some 
alteration in the church near the most holy body of St. Paul, and 
it was necessary to dig deep in the neighbourhood of his tomb. 
The superior came to some bones not at all connected with his 
sepulchre, which he removed, but he paid dearly for his rashness. 
He was visited by a fearful apparition and died suddenly. . . . But 
that thy pious longing may not be wholly disappointed, I will 
hasten to send thee some filings of those chains which St. Paul 
wore on his neck and hands, if indeed I shall succeed in getting 
them off. For since the devout are continually begging permission 
to take away something from these chains, a priest stands by with 
a file ; and sometimes it happens that the dust falls off easily and 
instantly ; while at other times the file is long drawn over them, 
and yet nothing is scraped off." 1 

In spite however of superstition and prejudice, Gregory's opinions 
were often sound and enlightened. These are his words on the Christian 
ministry : " The world is full of priests, yet there are but few real 
labourers for God's harvest, since although we have undertaken the 
priestly calling, we do not fulfil its duties. He who is unable to 
occupy the congregation with a connected discourse may instruct 
individuals and edify them by private conversation. Let us ask 
ourselves, who have been converted by our tongue ? We have 
received our talents to trade with ; what profit have we brought to 

1 Peter's chains, as well as those of Paul, were preserved at Eome. They 
were originally two, the Neronian with which he was bound by order of the 
Emperor Nero, and the Herodian by which he was attached to the soldiers in 
the prison at Jerusalem. The latter was discovered by the Empress Eudoxia, 
wife of Theodosius II., whilst on a pilgrimage, and sent by her as a precious 
relic to Eome, where the moment it touched the former it became miraculously 
welded to it, and thus formed one holy and inseparable chain! In memory of 
this miracle the feast of the Chains of Peter was instituted, and is still kept on 
the 1st of August. See ante, p. 49, note. 


Him who said 'occupy till I come ? ' Behold, He is already come; 
He is looking for the profit from our traffic. What gain of souls 
can we show?" He does not restrict this responsibility to the 
priesthood. " The priest's lips should teach knowledge, for he is a 
messenger of the Lord ; but all may attain the same high dignity 
if they will. Whosoever calls his neighbour from wicked ways to a 
right course of life, he too, certainly is a messenger of the Lord. 
Hast thou no bread to give to the needy ? Thou hast a tongue ; 
thou hast something of more value than bread. For it is a greater 
thing to refresh by the nourishment of the word a soul destined to 
everlasting life, than to satisfy the mortal body with earthly bread. 
To the poorest, even the little that he has received will be reckoned 
as a talent." 

The Church of Eome venerates the name of Gregory as amongst 
the wisest of her doctors ; it would have saved her from infinite loss 
if she had attended to his counsel on the study of Scripture. It 
^was his constant habit to enforce upon both lay and clergy the 
great duty of reading the Bible. One of the Emperor's physicians 
excusing himself from this practice by the distractions of the times, 
Gregory wrote to him : " What else are the Holy Scriptures but a 
letter from the Almighty to his creatures ? If thou wert staying at 
.a distance from the court, and received a letter from thy earthly 
sovereign, thou wouldst not rest, thou couldst not sleep, till thou 
knew its contents. The King of Heaven, the Lord of men and 
angels, has sent thee his letter, giving thee directions how to attain 
eternal life, and yet thou art neglecting to read it. Bestir thyself, and 
jreflect daily on thy Creator's words. Learn to know the heart of 
God from the words of God, so that thou mayest yearn with ardent 
longing after the Eternal." To a bishop who made a like excuse, 
namely, that his duties left him no leisure for reading, 1 Gregory 
quoted Bom. xv. 4, and continued : "If the Holy Scriptures were 
written for our comfort we ought the more to read them in propor- 
tion as we feel oppressed by the burden of our distractions." And 
when the bishop, referring to Matt. x. 19, " But when they deliver 
you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be 
given you in that hour, what ye shall speak," argued that the 
ieachers of the Church had no need to study the Divine word, but 
might rely simply on the immediate revelation of the Holy Spirit, 
Gregory answered : " The outward word would have been given us 
to no purpose if, being filled with the Spirit, we had no need of it." 

1 The functions of the bishops, as of the pope, were in those unsettled times 
various and burdensome, including many secular duties. 


Elsewhere, with an experience which will find a ready response in 
Christian hearts of all times, he says : " Often we believe our 
conduct to be meritorious, but when we compare it with the 
Divine word we see at how great a distance we are from per- 

Again Gregory warns his hearers against expecting special reve- 
lations when in possession of the broad Gospel truth. A woman in 
a time of mental anguish wrote to him that she would give him no 
rest until he received a special revelation that her sins were for- 
given. Gregory answered her, that he was unworthy of a special 
revelation, and referred her to the fountain of the Eedeemer's 
mercy, set open for all, adding, " I know thou hast a fervid love to 
God, and I trust the word spoken by the lip of truth of another has 
also been spoken of thee : ' Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, 
for she loved much.' " 

Like true Christian men in all ages, Gregory utterly disclaimed 
the false notion, that by the mere profession of sound doctrine, or 
by a zeal for religion, without holiness, a man can please God. To 
a certain bishop who boasted of the number of heretics he had con- 
verted, Gregory wrote : "I thank God that by thy instrumentality 
heretics have been reclaimed to the Church ; but thou must take- 
care that those who are already in the Church, so live as not to 
rank amongst her enemies. For if they do not love what is godly, 
but serve earthly lusts, thou wilt be bringing up strange children in. 
the bosom of the Church itself." 

Very wisely does he write concerning miracles, leading the minds 
of his hearers from the visible to the invisible, from outward signs 
to the purpose and end of all miracles, the work of God in the- 
heart of man. " When Paul came to Malta and saw the island full 
of unbelievers, he healed the father of Publius by his prayers ; yet 
when Timothy was ill, he bade him drink no longer water, but use 
a little wine for his stomach's sake, and his often infirmities. How 
is it, Paul, that thou miraculously restorest the sick unbeliever to- 
health, and yet to thy fellow-labourer prescribest only natural 
remedies like a physician ? Is it not because outward miracles- 
have for their object, that souls should be conducted to tbe inward 
miracle ? ... In order for faith to grow, it must be nourished by 
miracle ; as when we plant shrubs we pour water on them, till we 
see that they have taken firm root in the ground. The Church 
works now in a spiritual manner what it then effected through the 
Apostles in a bodily manner. When believers who have renounced 
the language of their former worldly life, cause holy truths to issue 
from their lips, what do they but ' speak with new tongues ? " 


When they hear pernicious connsel, but are not carried away to 
commit evil deeds, do they not ' drink deadly poison, but it does not 
hurt them ? ' When they see their neighbours weak in righteous- 
ness and give them help, and strengthen them by their own 
example, what do they but ' lay their hand upon the sick so that they 
recover?' Strive after these miracles of love and piety, which are 
all the more sure as they are more hidden.' ' 

That Gregory had a sense of the danger of resting too much on 
miracles, we may see by his letter to the monk Augustine in Britain. 
" But my beloved brother, there is something which along with thy 
great joy gives reason for much fear. Thou mayest rejoice that the 
souls of Englishmen have been led by outward miracles to inward 
-grace, but thou ought to fear lest the miraculous works which have 
been performed should puff up thy own weak mind. . . . Examine 
thyself strictly, learn correctly what thou thyself art, as well as 
how the grace of God has shown itself amongst this people, for 
whose conversion thou hast received the power of working miracles. 
"Consider this power, not as conferred on thyself, but on those for 
whose salvation it has been given thee." 

We conclude with a few more gems from the casket of Gregory's 

Some men ostentatiously confess their faults, but when they are reproved for 
them, defend themselves, and protest their innocence. This kind of mock con- 
fession proves that they are not really humble, but seek only the merit of being 
reckoned so. 

The greater progress saints make in the divine life, the more sensible are 
they of their own unworthiness ; for in proportion as they draw near to the 
light their deformity is made manifest, and the better they become acquainted 
with holiness the more completely do they know and understand what sin is. 

He who dispenses of his earthly substance to his destitute neighbour, but 
does not guard his own life from sin, is like a man who should offer the meaner 
gift to God, and keep the more valuable for the Evil One. 

It is not enough that we renounce our property, we must come out of 
ourselves. We must renounce ourselves in that which we have made our - 
selves through sin, and keep ourselves in that which we have become through 

True prayer consists not in the words of the lips, but in the feelings of the 
heart ; for our desires, not our words, fall as a sound of power on the secret ear 
of God. If we pray with our lips, but do not desire with our hearts, our calling 
upon God is only a silence ; but if we desire with the fulness of our hearts, our 
very silence is a calling upon God. 

Unlike the Oriental divines, Gregory would suffer no sacrifice of 
truth on any pretence. " It is not allowable," he says, " to make 
use of falsehood even to save life." 

growth of the papal supremacy. 255 

Note on the Papacy. 

The papal supremacy attained its full proportions, although not its full 
exercise of tyrannical power, in Gregory I. In our former work we traced its 
germ and the earlier stages of its development. 1 

Siricius, bishop of Rome, a.d. 384 398, was the first to issue a Letter (or 
Decretal) having the force of a law to the Catholic Church. In 417, the Council 
of Carthage sent to Innocent I. its canons respecting the Pelagian controversy 
for its sanction. Innocent signified his satisfaction, and gave them to under- 
stand that, according to the sacred institutions of the Fathers, whatever was 
done even in the remotest provinces could not be complete until it had come to the 
knowledge of the Apostolic Chair. But the spirit of independence was not yet 
quite extinct. Notwithstanding the dictum of Innocent, the African Church 
resolved that no appeal against its jurisdiction should lie beyond the sea; and 
when his successor Zosimus put forth some canons of the Council of Sardica 
as canons of the great Council of Nicaea, Augustine's friend Alypius exposed the 
mistake, and at the death of Zosimus the Council of Carthage addressed the 
new pope, Boniface, in words of bold and honest admonition: "Now that 
thou art seated on the throne of the Church of Borne, we hope we shall 
no more have to endure a worldly pride unworthy of the Church of Jesus 

But this was the last stroke for the independence of the Church. Leo I. 
might have paraphrased the words of Louis XIV., "L'Eglise, c'est moi." "He 
who disputes the primacy of the Apostle Peter will find himself powerless to 
lessen that dignity ; but puffed up by the spirit of his own pride will plunge 
himself into hell." This assumption on the part of Leo was endorsed by the 
youthful Emperor Valentinian III. By a decree of the year 445 he ordained : 
" The primacy of the Apostolic Seat being established by the merit of the 
Apostle Peter, the dignity of the City of Borne and the sanction of a holy synod, 
no pretended power shall arrogate to itself anything against the authority of 
that seat. For peace can be universally preserved only when the whole Church 
acknowledges its ruler." 

At the same time the personal holiness of the pope was declared, and he was 
exempted from the judgment of his fellow-men. Accordingly in 501, when 
Pope Symmachus was " accused of many horrible crimes," the bishops refused 
to sit in judgment upon him, because " the merit and primacy of St. Peter and 
the decrees of the holy councils had conferred a supreme power on the see of 
Rome, and it was a thing unheard of that the bishop of Borne should submit to 
be judged by his inferiors." Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, went further and de- 
clared that the pope had no need of reformation, because he who was promoted 
to this dignity was of necessity holy, and God would not suffer him to be 

How succeeding popes not only maintained this assumed prerogative of 
holiness and of supremacy in the Church, but even waged wars, disposed of 
thrones, and set their feet on the necks of kings, is well known to all readers 
of history, and it will to some extent appear in the following pages. 2 

1 Early Church History, p. 259. 
2 Gregory II. in the eighth century (a.d. 727) boasted to the Greek Emperor, 
" All the kings of the West reverence the pope as God upon earth"; and Boni- 
face VIII. (from 1294 to 1303) declared it to be essential to the salvation of 
every human being to be subject to the Boman pontiff. The title of pope (papa, 


This brief notice of the growth of papacy would be incomplete without a 
reference to the Forged Decretals of Isidore. These documents, which made- 
their appearance in the ninth century, consisted partly of about one hundred 
letters purporting to be written by earlier bishops of Home from the time of the- 
Apostles, or by their correspondents, partly of the acts of certain unknown 
councils. For many centuries, even down to the Beformation, they were 
accepted as genuine notwithstanding gross anachronisms. 1 In these Decretals 
the privileges of the clergy, and especially of the bishops, are magnified, and 
the pope appears as the supreme head, law-giver, and judge of the Church, the- 
universal bishop. There was, it is true, little or nothing new in the hierarchical 
pretensions here set forth ; "the main outline of the papacy had been marked 
out four centuries earlier by Leo the Great ; but the consolidation of the scat- 
tered fragments into one body, the representation of the later papal claims as 
having come down by unbroken tradition from the Apostolic times, could not 
but produce a vast effect" in rendering the papal authority paramount in 

Principal Fairbairn has these pertinent remarks on the origin and growth of 
the Eomish Church system : " The old Religion had its priesthood, the new had 
its clergy, and so these two were made parallel. Once they had been made 
parallel, it was necessary to do the same for the worships ; and once they were 
assimilated, the New Testament ceased to fulfil the Old, the Old reigned in the 
New. And this is what Cyprian shows us; he represents the victory of the 
older Religion, the rejuvenescence of Judaism, the entrance of the hieratic idea 

into the Kingdom of Christ, changing it into a kingdom of priests The 

clergy became the Church, the Church the Religion, and the Religion a trans- 
formed Roman empire, with the pope for emperor, bishops for procurators, and 
the priesthood for the magistrates and legionaries that levied the taxes, enforced 
the laws, upheld the unity, and maintained the peace of the civilized world. 
Papal infallibility is but imperial supremacy transfigured and spiritualized. 
The Catholic Church could not have been without Christianity, but still less 
could it have been without Roman imperialism. It owes its life to the one, but 

its distinctive organization to the other If the Church had passed the 

first five centuries of its existence under an Oriental despotism or amid free 
Greek cities, its structure had been altogether different. It seemed to vanquish 
the Empire, but the Empire by assimilating survived in it ; the name was the 
name of Christ, but the form was the form of Caesar." 

father) was not exclusively applied to the bishop of Rome till about the year 
521. The phrase Apostolic See seems to have been first used by Zosimus (417 
419). The title of cardinal arose later. Gregory the Great frequently speaks of 
the "cardinal-presbyters and deacons" of a church. Those of the parish 
churches in Rome, twenty-five or twenty-eight, came to be held in special 
honour; and in 1059 Pope Nicholas II. formed these with seven "cardinal 
bishops " into a college for electing future popes. 

1 Persons are made to correspond with one another who lived centuries- 
apart ; Scripture is quoted in the words of Jerome's Vulgate some two hundred 
years before Jerome was born ; complaint is made of the encroachment by 
laymen on Church property in language belonging to the period of Charles the 

( 257 ) 


Christianity in Britain. 

The early history of the British Church is very obscure. The facts 
relating to it, which are known with any degree of certainty, may 
be enumerated in a few lines. By the end of the second century 
the Gospel had spread through the southern parts of the island and 
had begun to penetrate " beyond the Roman pale"; but the legend 
of St. Alban, who is reputed to have suffered martyrdom in the 
Diocletian persecution, rests upon scanty evidence. 1 In the reign 
of Constantine, three British bishops attended the Council of Aries, 
a.d. 314. Bishops from Britain are again met with at the Council 
of Sardica (347), and at that of Rimini (359), where a large num- 
ber were present and subscribed the Semi-Arian Creed. At the 
end of the same century we read of Ninyas, a Welsh missionary, 
preaching to the Picts in Galloway. He is said to have been 
educated at Rome, and on his way homeward to have visited Mar- 
tin of Tours, who ordained him to his missionary work, and whose 
name he gave to the church of his new bishopric in Galloway. 2 
About the same time Paula and Eustochium speak of pilgrims from 
Britain who came to visit the holy places at Bethlehem. 

In the year 409 the Romans abandoned the island ; and between 
this date and the landing of the Jutes (449), the Pelagian heresy 
was introduced into Britain, as Bede relates, by a bishop named 
Agricola, and the British Churches, unable by themselves to refute 
the subtle arguments of the preacher, sought the aid of the bishops 
of Gaul. Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes were accord- 
ingly sent to them, and overthrew the heretical teachers in a dispu- 
tation at St. Albans a.d. 429. Germanus returned hither eighteen 
years afterwards to complete the spiritual victory. 

From the time of the Saxon invasion we hear little more of the 
British Churches. In Gaul, Italy and other countries of the Em- 

1 See Early Church History, pp. 113, 307. The famous Glastonbury legend of 
Joseph of Arimathea and the Sacred Thorn is not older than the eleventh cen- 

2 There still survives, says Dean Stanley, on a lonely hill the contemporary 
grave-stone of some who would seem to have been the companions of Ninyas. 
Being built of stone, the church was called the White House, and is identified 
by tradition with Whithorn in Wigtonshire. 


pire, the conquerors adopted the religion as well as the language 
and manners of the conquered, but in England the case was widely 
different. The conquest of this country by the Saxons, which it 
took a century or two of hard fighting to accomplish, ended in the 
complete subversion both of Koman civilization and of Christianity, 
and in the substitution alike of the political life and the idolatry of 
the Germans. Bede's harrowing picture of the Saxon ravages may 
perhaps have gained something in colouring by the lapse of three 
centuries. " They plundered the cities and country, marking their 
course by flames from one sea to the other, and spreading them- 
selves over almost every part of the island. Public and private 
buildings were alike destroyed ; the priests were murdered at the 
altars ; the bishops and their people were indiscriminately put to 
the sword, until there was none to bury them. Some of the 
wretched remnant were seized on the mountains and butchered in 
heaps. Others, spent with hunger, surrendered themselves and 
submitted to perpetual slavery for the sake of food. Some sorrow- 
fully made for regions beyond the sea ; others remained behind to 
lead in perpetual trembling and anxiety a hard and precarious life 
among the forests and mountains." Those whom Bede describes 
as fleeing " beyond the sea" found refuge in Armorica j 1 those who 
became serfs to the conquerors gradually forgot their Christianity ; 
while such as maintained their independence in the unconquered 
fastnesses of Cornwall, Wales, or Cumberland, although they pre- 
served their religion, lost their Roman civilization and the use of 
the Latin tongue. Thus Britain was withdrawn from the Roman 
world, and until the mission of Augustine was regarded as a land of 
mystery and fable. 

One episode, however, pregnant of future blessing to Europe, 
belongs to the annals of the British Church previous to the Saxon 
conquest. The ray of historical light which reveals to us Ninyas 
preaching to the southern Picts, at the end of the fourth and begin- 
ning of the fifth centuries, falls also on the village of Bonaven, now 
Kilpatrick, in Dumbartonshire. Here was born near the year 372, 
Patrick, called in his native tongue Succath. His father was a 
deacon, and appears also to have held some office in connection 
with the northern Roman Wall. He gave his son a good edu- 
cation. But the youth lived on light-hearted from day to day, 
without personal interest in religion, until in his seventeenth year 
the course of his life was rudely interrupted. 

Some pirates of the wild tribes of the Scots, who then inhabited 

1 Brittany and part of Normandy. 


the north of Ireland, landed upon the coast and carried him and a 
multitude of others away as captives. Patrick was sold to a 
chieftain who made him keeper of his flocks and herds. Affliction 
led him to seek God, of whom in the days of youthful ease and 
liberty he had been unmindful. Abandoned on earth, he found 
consolation and happiness from above ; and as he wandered about 
with his cattle he enjoyed heavenly communion in prayer and quiet 
meditation. Let us hear his own words written at a later period 
of his life : "I was about sixteen years old and knew nothing of the 
true God, until, in captivity, He opened my unbelieving heart, so 
that, though late, I thought of my sins and turned to Him with my 
whole soul. And He who preserved me before I could distinguish 
hetween good and evil, and watched over me as a Father, looked 
down on my lowly condition and had compassion on my youth and 
ignorance. Before He humbled me I was like a stone sunk in the 
mire, but when He who had power came, He raised me in his 
mercy and set me on a very high place. For which cause I must 
testify aloud in order to make some return for such inestimable 
blessings both in time and eternity. The fear and love of God," 
he continues, " was kindled in me ; faith grew, so that I prayed 
often, one day offering a hundred prayers, and at night almost as 
many, and when I passed the night in the woods or on the moun- 
tains, I rose up to pray before daybreak in the snow, ice and rain. 
Yet I felt no suffering, nor was there any sluggishness in me, such 
as I now find, for then the Spirit glowed within me." 

After spending six years in the service of this chief, Patrick 
believed he heard a voice in his sleep which promised him a speedy 
return to his native land, and not many nights afterwards an- 
nounced to him that a vessel was ready to take him. In depend- 
ence on this call he set out, and at the end of some days met with 
a ship on the point of sailing. At first the captain would not 
receive the poor unknown youth. Patrick fell on his knees and 
began to pray, and ere he had finished the captain relenting, sent 
one of the sailors to call him. Through many sufferings and de- 
liverances he at length reached his home. Ten years afterwards 
he was a second time taken prisoner by Scottish pirates, and was 
now carried to Gaul, whence the charity of Christian merchants 
again restored him to his native land, to the great joy of his 

But Patrick could not rest at home ; he felt an irresistible call to 
carry the message of salvation to the people amongst whom he had 
passed his youth, and been born again to the heavenly life. As 
Paul was directed by the Lord to go over to Macedonia, so Patrick 


deemed he received a heavenly summons to preach the Gospel to- 
the people of Ireland. A man from that country appeared to him 
in a dream, giving him a letter superscribed, " The words of the 
Irish"; and as Patrick read it, he seemed to hear the simul- 
taneous voices of many, crying : " We beseech thee, child of God, 
come and again walk among us ! " His feelings would not allow 
him to read further, and he awoke. Another night he heard a 
voice from Heaven, the last words of which were intelligible, 
" He who gave his life for thee, He speaks in thee." He awoke 
full of joy. A third time he dreamed, and it was as though there 
was something within him and yet above him, praying with deep 
sighs. When he awoke he called to mind the Apostle's words : 
"The Spirit also helpeth our infirmity, for we know not how to 
pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us 
with groanings which cannot be uttered." 

His parents and friends strove to keep him from his purpose. 
" Many opposed my going, and said behind my back, Why does he 
rush into danger among the heathen who do not know the Lord ? ' 
Gifts were offered to me with tears if I would remain at home ; . 
but I did not yield ; God overcame in me and withstood them all. 
How," he exclaims, "should so great and blessed a favour be 
bestowed upon me, to know and love God, and to leave my parents 
and native land, and go to the people of Ireland to publish the 
Gospel, and to suffer insults and persecution even to bonds ! More- 
over, if I am found worthy I am also ready to give up my life 
with joy for his name's sake." Before commencing his missionary 
work Patrick went again to Gaul, the better to prepare himself by 
intercourse with pious priests and monks. 

His knowledge of the Irish language enabled him to preach with 
great readiness to the people. By the sound of a kettle-drum he 
collected large assemblies in the open air, to whom he declared the 
sufferings of the Saviour for sinful humanity ; and the word of the 
Cross reached the witness for God in the hearts of many. He met 
indeed with much opposition, for the Druid priests and national 
bards whose influence was great, stirred up the people against him. 
But he conquered by steadfastness and faith, by glowing zeal, and 
by the attractive power of love. His influence over men's minds is 
seen in the following instance. Coming in the course of his journeys 
to the house of a man of rank, his message was received and the 
whole family were baptized. But one of the sons, not contented 
merely to profess the Gospel, clave to the Gospel messenger, and in 
spite of all the efforts of his friends, forsook all to accompany 
Patrick in his toils and dangers. On account of the youth's gentle 

Patrick's humility. 261 

disposition, he received the name of Benignus, and his sweet voice 
was used to influence the people hy the singing of hymns. At 
Patrick's death Benignus became one of his successors in the 
pastoral office. Many of the national bards were converted by his 
means, and lips which had been accustomed to chant Druidical 
couplets, now sang the folly of idolatry and the praises of God and 

Patrick sought especially the conversion of the chiefs. These 
when they allowed themselves to be stirred up by the priests 
against the new religion, could do much harm ; but when they 
embraced the Gospel, their example formed a counterpoise to the 
reverence felt for the Druids. Young men of the lower rank who 
seemed fitted for the ministry were by him educated as teachers. 
He also received and protected slaves who fled to him from the 
harsh treatment of their owners. 

Patrick was watchful against spiritual pride. After speaking in 
one of his letters of the miracles which God had enabled him to 
perform, he adds : " But let no one on account of such things 
suppose that I place myself on an equality with the Apostles, or 
the perfected saints, for I am a poor, sinful, despicable man. Be 
astonished, ye who fear God, both small and great, and ye eloquent 
talkers who know nothing of the Lord, understand and examine 
who it is who has called a simple person like me to serve with fear 
and trembling, yet faithfully and blamelessly, the people to whom 
the love of Christ has led me." He avoided even the semblance of 
seeking his own glory or profit. When many brought gifts out of 
gratitude to him as their spiritual father, and pious women offered 
him their ornaments, he refused them all, whilst he himself gave 
presents to the heathen chiefs (one of whom had plundered and 
imprisoned him), in order to secure peace for his flock, and to 
ransom Christians from captivity. 

After labouring thirty years he thus addressed his converts : "I 
call God to witness that I seek not honour from you. May He 
never suffer me to lose the Church which he has won in this remote 
corner of the earth. I pray that He will count me worthy to perse- 
vere in a faithful testimony until the time of my departure, and 
that I may be permitted to shed my blood for his name, with my 
converts who are in prison, even though my body should obtain no 
burial, or be torn in pieces by wild beasts. For beyond a doubt we 
shall rise again with the glory of the Redeemer Jesus Christ, for 
we shall reign by Him, and through Him, and with Him. The 
visible sun rises daily for our benefit according to God's command, 
-but its splendour will not endure for ever ; all the unhappy beings 


who worship it will suffer punishment. But we worship Christ, the- 
true Sun who will never set ; and he likewise who does his will 
shall never set, but shall live for ever." 

Patrick often desired to re-visit his native country, but could 
never find opportunity to leave his work. " I am bound," he says, 
" by the Holy Spirit, who will not hold me guiltless if I leave the- 
work I have begun, and I am in fear also lest it should fall to the 

The Catholic legend of Patrick's journey to Kome, a.d. 432, where 
he was ordained by Pope Sixtus III. as missionary to Ireland, is 
unsupported by historical evidence. Like Ulfilas with the Goths, 
Patrick is said to have taught the Irish the use of letters. After 
his death his disciples carried on his labours in the spirit of their 
master. The Scriptures were studied, books were collected, and 
the monasteries became schools of missionaries, so that the country 
acquired the title of " The Island of the Saints." 1 In the succeeding 
century the grateful church sent back to Scotland the Gospel which 
she had received from thence. The leader in this work was an abbot 
of royal race named Columba, or as he was called while still a child, 
from his diligent attendance at public worship, Columkille (the dove 
of the Church). He crossed over to North Britain in a wicker boat 
with a small band of monks about the year 563, and established 
himself in the little island of Iona, called after him I-colm-kill, now 
included within Argyleshire. In the course of his missionary journeys 
he passed over the Grampians to preach to the northern Picts ; and 
he died in 596, the very year in which the monk Augustine set out 
from Borne for the conversion of England. The monastery which 
Columba founded at Iona, and over which he presided thirty years, 
attained a wide reputation and became the centre of religious life 
to the whole land of the Picts. There Biblical and other studies, 
according to the standard of those early days, were carried on. Its 
abbots had the control and guidance of the bordering tribes and 
churches, and even exercised authority over bishops. 

Whilst the Gospel was thus taking root in Ireland, and extending 
its beneficent influence to Scotland, the original British Church, 
which survived in the fastnesses of Wales and Cornwall, would 
seem, if we may trust the invectives of Gildas, 2 to have fallen into 

1 It is possible, however, that this appellation, in Greek hiera nesos {holy 
island), is only a corruption of the native name Eri, or Erin. 

3 Gildas, a British or Irish Church writer, probably of the sixth century, but 
whose history is very obscure, writes thus in his epistle addressed to the 
Britons : " Britain hath clerks, but many of them are deceitful raveners ; 


a worldly condition. Nevertheless the Welsh clergy in the sixth 
century, in the events to be presently related, showed signs of 
religious life still existing amongst them. 

Such was the state of Christianity in these islands when Pope 
Gregory the Great undertook the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. 
The British and the Irish Church had alike sprung up independent 
of Borne, and the latter had prospered and had embarked on the 
aggressive work of the Gospel with little help, and with no control, 
from the Boman clergy. But neither the Welsh Britons, nor the 
missionaries of Ireland and Iona, had made, so far as we know, any 
attempt to teach the religion of Jesus to the rugged, warlike, 
freedom -loving Saxons. This triumph was reserved for Kome. 

The incident which led to it is well known. Gregory the Great, 
before he became pope, saw in the forum at Borne some handsome 
boys, fair-skinned and with beautiful hair, exposed for sale. He 
inquired whence they came. " From the island of Britain." " Are 
they Christians?" "They are still pagans." "Alas!" he ex- 
claimed, fetching a sigh from the bottom of his heart, " that the 
prince of darkness should possess such bright faces, that such grace 
of countenance should be devoid of inward grace ! Of what nation 
are they?" "Angles." "Bight," said he, "for they have the 
faces of angels, and ought to be co-heirs with the angels in 
heaven. What is the name of their province ? " " The people of 
that province are called Deiri." " Bight," he said again, still 
punning on the answers he received, " they must be rescued de ird 
(from the wrath to come), and won to the mercy of Christ. What is 
the name of their king ? " " ^lla." " Alleluia ! Praise unto God 
the Creator must be sung." 1 

From that moment Gregory resolved upon the conversion of 
Britain. Unable, as we have seen, 2 to enter upon the work in 
person, he sent forth as soon after his accession to the papal chair 
as the distracted state of Italy would permit, Augustine, provost of 

shepherds who are rather wolves prepared for the slaughter of souls. Instruct- 
ing the laity, they are withal examples of the most depraved vices and manners. 
Despising Christ's commandments, they fulfil their own lusts." 

1 " It may well be doubted," remarks Philip Smith, " whether this scene 
belongs to the real history or to the legends of Gregory's life. (1) The elaborate 
play on words suggest a suspicion that the story is rather ben trovato than vero. 
(2) Bede does not relate it in its place as part of the history of the mission, but 
brings it in after as an episode. (3) The very words in which he introduces and 
dismisses the story seem to mark it as derived from those legendary histories of 
Gregory which were popular in England, rather than from the authentic records 
copied for Bede at Canterbury and Borne." 

8 See ante, p. 246. 



his monastery in Borne, accompanied by forty monks. On their 
journey through Gaul, as they communed together, they became 
alarmed at the danger of the enterprise. The Saxon people were 
idolaters, a fierce and barbarous nation, and their language strange ; 
it would be folly to proceed, the only safe course was to return 
home. Accordingly they sent Augustine back to Rome humbly to 
entreat the pope to release them from so perilous a service. But 
Gregory was not to be turned aside from his purpose by their fears. 
He wrote to them : " Gregory, the servant of the servants of God, 
to the servants of our Lord. It had been better not to begin the 
good work than to think of desisting from that which has been 
begun. Let not the toil of the journey nor the tongues of evil men 
deter you ; but with all possible earnestness and zeal perform that 
which by God's direction you have undertaken, being assured that 
great labour is followed by a greater glory of eternal reward." 

Thus admonished they pursued their way, and landed at Ebbes- 
fleet on the Isle of Thanet, a.d. 597. The Gospel was not altogether 
unknown in Kent. King Ethelbert's wife Bertha, daughter of the 
Frankish king Charibert, was a Christian, and had brought with 
her a bishop who held divine service in an old British church out- 
side the walls of Canterbury. The king, on receiving a message 
from Augustine, went down to the shore to meet him, and setting 
his throne in the open air for fear of magical arts, ordered the mis- 
sionaries to be brought into his presence. They advanced in solemn 
procession, Augustine, " the dark-haired swarthy man, higher than 
any of the rest from his shoulders and upwards," at their head, 
preceded by a silver cross and the figure of our Lord painted on a 
board. As they drew near, they chanted their litanies for the 
salvation of the king and his people. When he had heard their 
message, Ethelbert said : " Your words and offers are fair, but as 
they are new to me and as yet unproved, I cannot forsake at once 
the faith of my nation which I have so long followed." Neverthe- 
less he permitted them to reside in his chief city of Canterbury, 
entertained them hospitably, and allowed them to preach and make 
converts. The austere life of the monks, their fastings, vigils, 
prayers and preaching, the courageous trust in God which they 
exhibited, and perhaps above all their miracles, made a powerful 
impression on the rude people. By direction of the pope, Augustine 
went to Aries to be ordained archbishop of the English nation, and 
on his return to Canterbury he found the work had made such rapid 
progress that at the first Christmas festival the king himself and 
ten thousand converts were baptized. The ceremony took place in 
the channel which divides the Isle of Sheppey from the mainland. 



Wishing to show Augustine the greatest possible honour, Ethel- 
bert gave up to him his own palace in Canterbury, with the Koman- 
British church in the neighbourhood for his cathedral, adding such 
lands and possessions as were deemed necessary to support the 
newly-founded see. Thus Koman Christianity became at once the 
established State religion in the dominions of the king of Kent. 
This example was followed in time by all the other kingdoms. 
" Everywhere the bishop's throne was set up side by side with the 
king's, the kingdom of the one became the bishopric 1 of the other; 
the bishops sat in the Council of the Wise Men [Wittenagemote] as 
equal with the Ealdermen [the rank next to the king] ; the clergy 
ranked with the thanes ; the laws of the Church were laws of the 
State " ; the union of Church and State was complete. Outside 
the walls of Canterbury, Augustine erected a Benedictine abbey, 
afterwards called by his name, which became the parent seat of 
learning in England. 

The form of Christianity thus brought to our forefathers was 
ritualistic and corrupt, yet was it a gift of incalculable value. The 

coin had been debased by no small mixture of alloy, but the gold 
was still there, and it still bore the Saviour's image. The lamp of 
truth burnt with a flickering light, yet it was infinitely better than 
the heathen darkness which it made manifest. 2 

At first it was Gregory's purpose to have the idol temples of the 
Saxons destroyed, but afterwards, when a fresh band of missionaries 
under abbot Mellitus was sent to reinforce Augustine, Gregory 
directed that the idols only should be removed, and that those 
temples which were substantially built should be suffered to remain. 
Sprinkled with holy water, and sanctified by altars and relics, they 
were to be converted into churches. Like Gregory Thaumaturgus, 3 
the pope even thought it expedient to humour the ignorant people 
in their ancient pagan practices. "Because," so he wrote to 
Mellitus, " they have been used to slay many oxen in sacrifice to 
devils, let the same solemnities be continued with a new direction, 
so that on the day of the dedication, or the nativities of the holy 
martyrs, they may build huts of the boughs of trees round the 
transmuted temples, keep a religious feast and slay and eat their 

1 The Saxon word rice or ric signifies jurisdiction : it forms part of the name 
Surrey, south-rice or south-ripe. 

2 " The Saxons were the fiercest of the Teutonic race. On the rude manners 

of the barbarian tribes had been engrafted the sanguinary and brutalizing habits 
of the pirate. Their religion was as cruel as their manners ; they are said to 
have sacrificed a tenth of their principal captives on the altars of their gods." 

8 See Early Church History, p. 281. 


cattle to the praise of God, returning thanks to the Giver of all 
things. In this way, whilst some of their old gratifications are 
outwardly permitted them, they may the more readily attain unto 
inward joy. For it is impossible to efface everything at once from 
their obdurate minds ; he who would ascend to the highest place 
must rise by degrees." 1 

At the same time the pope wrote to Ethelbert: " Bishop Gregory, 
to the most glorious lord and my most excellent son Ethelbert, King of 
the English. . . . Guard carefully the grace which thou hast re- 
ceived from God, and hasten to promote the Christian faith among 
thy people. Increase thy zeal for their conversion ; edify them by 
great purity of life ; exhort, terrify, soothe, correct, that thou mayst 
find thy Eewarder in heaven. For so Constantine, our most pious 
Emperor, recovering the Eoman commonwealth from the perverse 
worship of idols, subjected the same with himself to our Almighty 
God and Lord Jesus Christ, and thus transcended in fame former 
princes. . . . "Willingly hear, devoutly perform, and studiously re- 
tain in memory whatsoever you shall be advised by our most reverend 
brother bishop Augustine, who is instructed in the monastic rule, 
filled with the knowledge of Holy Scripture, and by the help of God 
endued with good works ; for if you give ear to him in what he 
speaks for God, God will the sooner hear him praying for you. . . . 
I have sent some small presents which will not seem inconsiderable 
when accompanied by the blessing of the holy Apostle Peter." 

Essex quickly followed Kent in receiving the Gospel, and Lon- 
don, then within its bounds, was made an episcopal see, Mellitus 
being appointed the first bishop. During Augustine's lifetime 
Christianity made no further progress in Saxon England. 

' The British Church secluded in the fastnesses of Wales could not 
but hear of the arrival of the Bomish missionaries, and of their 
success in the conversion of the Saxons. Augustine and his fol- 
lowers could not but inquire with deep interest concerning their 
Christian brethren in the remote parts of the island." But when 
they found that the practices of the British Churches differed in 
some particulars from those of Borne, sympathy was changed into 
coldness and suspicion. His narrow monastic education, if not his 
natural character, had unfitted Augustine to deal with an inde- 
pendent Church. One of his letters to Gregory asking his advice 
on some dubious points of discipline is still extant. Both his 

1 Koberts suggests that the custom of bringing deer at a certain season into 
St. Paul's Church, London, and laying them on the altar, was a relic of this 
indulgence ; it was abolished at the Reformation. 


questions and the pope's replies exhibit in a strong light the weak- 
ness and even the childishness of the monastic system. Neverthe- 
less the pope shows a moderation and good sense which Augustine 
would have done well to imitate. " Thou knowest, brother, the 
custom of the Eoman Church in which thou wert bred. But I direct 
that if thou hast found anything either in the Eoman, Gallican, 
or any other Church, which may be more acceptable to Almighty 
God, thou shalt carefully choose the same, and teach it to the 
Church of the English, which as yet is new in the faith. ' For 
things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the 
sake of good things.' " Unhappily Augustine acted in an entirely 
opposite spirit. He believed the Eoman discipline to be perfect, 
and regarded every deviation from it as heretical ; and he aspired 
to nothing less than the subjection of the whole island to the 
"Apostolic" see. 1 

Having received their Christianity before the settlement of the 
Eoman ritual and hierarchy, the Britons pursued a different prac- 
tice on several points. Their mode of baptism was different ; their 
observance of Easter was otherwise regulated ; they differed in 
their monastic rules, and in the form of tonsure of the priests ; 
and (much more important) marriage was allowed to their clergy. 
Of these divergences, the time of keeping Easter seems, strange to 
say, to have taken the leading place in the minds of the Italian 
monks. 2 The Britons were not indeed, as the Eastern Churches 
had been, Quarto-decimanians ; they did not, following the Jewish 
mode of reckoning, keep our Lord's Crucifixion and Eesurrection 
according to the day of the month, regardless of the day of the 
week. 3 But a new and more accurate method of computing Easter 
had not long been introduced, and had not yet reached Britain. 4 

1 Gregory and Augustine had already anticipated the spiritual conquest of 
Britain, and had planned a second metropolitan see at York, which, like Can- 
terbury, was to be the centre of twelve bishoprics. 

2 As to the tonsure, the Eoman clergy shaved the crown of the head, leaving 
a circle of hair, in imitation of the crown of thorns. They called this St. Peter's 
tonsure, pretending that the apostle was so shorn in memory of our Lord's 
passion. The British priests shaved the fore-part of the head as far as the ears, 
in the form of a crescent, which was called by their adversaries the tonsure of 
Simon Magus. There was a third fashion, the Greek tonsure, which was re- 
ferred to the Apostle Paul as its author, and consisted in shaving, or rather 
closely clipping, the whole head. 

8 See Early Church History, p. 237. 
* The new cycle was improved and settled by Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian 
monk, who flourished in the latter part of the fifth century. It is to him also 
that we owe the practice of dating events from the birth of our Saviour, thus, 
looking upon this event as the grand "turning-point" of history. 


Borne herself had been late in accepting the new calendar, having 
until within three-quarters of a century observed the same rule as 
that still followed by tbe British Churches. 1 Everything must 
needs, however, be sacrificed to the idol of uniformity and of Boman 

Augustine sent a message to the British clergy, demanding that 
they should lay aside their own practices, and observe in all respects 
the Boman discipline. Dinooth, abbot of their great monastery at 
Bangor, 2 unable to comprehend such an assumption of authority, 
answered : " "We are all ready to listen to the Church of God, to 
the pope of Borne and to every pious Christian, and to show perfect 
love to each, according to his station, upholding him by word and 
deed. We know not that any other obedience can be required of 
us towards him whom you call ' the Father of Fathers.' " 

At King Ethelbert's suggestion the Britons were invited to a 
conference with Augustine and his clergy. They met, a.d. 601 or 
602, on the banks of the Severn in Gloucestershire, the confines of 
the kingdom of Wessex. The conference was held under an oak, 
afterwards known as Augustine's oak. 8 It was not to be expected 
that the parties should come to an agreement. On the one side 
were unreasonable demands urged with inflexible rigour and 
haughtiness ; on the other there was the consciousness of right, 
supported by an ancient spirit of independence. "When," says 
Bede, " after a long disputation, the Britons manifested no com- 
pliance with the entreaties and rebukes of Augustine and his 
companions, but preferred their own traditions to the consensus of 
all the Churches in the world, the holy father Augustine, to put an 
end to this tedious contention, said : Let us pray to God for a 
heavenly sign to direct us which tradition to follow. Let some 
infirm person be produced, and let us see by whose prayers he shall 
be made whole.'" The British unwillingly consented; a blind 
man, an Anglo-Saxon, was brought, and presented to the Welsh 
clergy, who prayed over him in vain. Augustine then knelt and 

1 Several times towards the end of the fifth century Easter was kept in 
different weeks by the Greek and Koman Churches. 

2 Bangor signifies the sacred circle. There were no fewer than sixteen places 
so named in Wales, besides the famous monastery on the Lough, near Belfast. 
Dinooth's is supposed to be Bangor-Iscoed, now Bangor, on the Dee, five miles 
east of Buabon. 

8 Not improbably near the present Aust Passage, anciently Aust Clive 
(Southern Cliffs). This was the lowest ferry on the Severn, and is several 
times mentioned in the Civil Wars as the landing-place of troops coming from 
Chepstow. In 1375 the prebend of Aust was given by King Edward III. to 


prayed, and immediately the blind man was restored to sight. 1 
Still the Britons did not yield ; they declared they could do nothing 
without the consent of a larger number of their clergy. Their 
seven bishops accordingly came together, with learned men from 
the monastery of Bangor. 2 But before they ventured to renew the 
conference, they consulted a hermit whom they held in great vene- 
ration. The good man said they might follow Augustine if he were 
a man of God. " But how," they asked, " are we to know whether 
he is such?" "If," replied the hermit, " he is meek and lowly of 
heart, he bears the yoke of Christ and offers it to you ; but if he is 
stern and proud, he is not of God, and we may disregard his words." 
"But how," they asked again, "shall we discern this?" "Let 
the Eomans," said the hermit, " arrive first at the place of meeting, 
and if on your approach the man shall rise from his seat to receive 
you, hear him submissively, for he is the servant of Christ ; but if 
he despises you and remains seated, do you also despise him." 
Augustine, as they drew near, kept his seat; upon which the 
Britons charged him with pride, and contradicted all he said. "If," 
answered Augustine, "you will comply with me in three points 
keep Easter duly, administer baptism according to the practice of 
the holy Roman Apostolic Church, and join us in preaching the 
word of the Lord to the English, we will tolerate all your other 
divergences from our customs." They replied that they would 
consent to none of those things nor receive him as their archbishop^ 
The stern tones of the Roman monk close the interview. "As you 
will not have peace with brethren, you shall have war from foes ; 
aud as you will not preach unto the English the way of life, you 
shall suffer at their hands the vengeance of death." 

" All which," adds Bede, his gentle heart steeled by religious 
bigotry, " all which through the Divine judgment fell out as Augus- 
tine had predicted. The warlike king of the Angles, Ethelfrid, 
having raised a mighty army, made a vast slaughter of that per- 

1 Dr. Hook is of opinion that no such transaction as the above ever occurred- 
" That Bede related faithfully the tradition of the Church of Canterbury no one 
doubts ; but the event recorded took place some time between the years 600 and 
605. Bede finished his history in 731. ... If we read his narrative atten- 
tively, the account of the miracle looks like an interpolation. He does indeed 
say that the Britons confessed that it was the true way of righteousness which 
Augustine taught ; but the statement is contradicted by the fact that he does 
not name a single Briton who became a convert to Augustine's opinion. ... I 
treat the whole statement as a mere ' Canterbury tale.' " 

3 The bishoprics were Menevia or St. David's, Llandaff, Llanbadarn, Bangor, 
and St. Asaph ; with perhaps Gloucester ; the seventh spoken of by Bede is 


fidious nation at the city of Caerleon. 1 Being about to give battle, 
he observed standing apart in a place of safety, a great company of 
priests and monks, who having fasted three days were come to offer 
prayers to God for their people. ' Although they are unarmed,' he 
said, ' yet if they cry to their God against us, it is the same as if 
they fought against us ; let them be first attacked.' Twelve hun- 
dred are said to have fallen, only fifty saving themselves by flight. 
Thus," concludes Bede's narrative, " was fulfilled the prediction of 
the holy bishop Augustine that these perfidious men should feel the 
vengeance of temporal death, because they had despised the offer of 
eternal salvation." 

The relation between the Roman and the British Churches is 
thus summed up by our quaint historian Fuller. " Augustine found 
here a plain religion (simplicity is the badge of antiquity) practised 
by the Britons ; living some of them in the contempt, and many 
more in the ignorance of worldly vanities. He brought in a reli- 
gion, spun with a coarser thread, though guarded with a finer 
trimming, made luscious to the senses with pleasing ceremonies, 
so that many who could not judge of the goodness, were courted 
with the gaudiness, thereof. We are indebted to God for his good- 
ness in moving Gregory ; Gregory's carefulness in sending Augus- 
tine ; Augustine's forwardness in preaching here; but above all, let 
us bless God's exceeding great favour, that that doctrine which 
Augustine planted here but impure, and his successors made worse 
with watering, is since, by the happy Beformation, cleared and 
refined to the purity of the Scriptures." 


The Gospel in Northumbria. 

Step by step Christianity won its way throughout the Heptarchy. 
It early found an entrance into the great northern kingdom, whose 
capital was York. 

Paulinus, one of Augustine's followers, was consecrated the first 
bishop of York. 2 He had accompanied into the north Ethelburga, 

1 Caerleon, in Monmouthshire, the chief city of Wales, the Britannia Se- 
cunda of the Komans. But according to Moberly it was Chester. 

2 He is described by Bede as "tall in stature, a little stooping, with black 
hair, thin face, slender aquiline nose, and at once venerable and awful in 


the Christian daughter of Ethelbert King of Kent, on her marriage 
with Edwin King of Northumbria, a.d. 625. Edwin, although still 
Sk pagan, was well disposed towards Christianity. Being about to 
undertake a war against Quichelm King of the West Saxons, he 
promised Paulinus, that if by his prayers he would procure him 
victory, he would renounce his idols and confess Christ. Edwin 
was victorious, but, before making profession of the Gospel, he de- 
sired to confer with his chief men and councillors, so that if they 
also were of the same mind, "all might together be cleansed in the 
fountain of life." Paulinus consented, and a general council was 
convened a.d. 627, probably at the royal villa on the Derwent. 
When they were assembled, the king inquired of every one in par- 
ticular what they thought of the new doctrine. The chief priest 
Coifi was the first to answer. " king, consider what this is which 
is now preached to us, for the religion we have hitherto professed 
has, so far as I can see, no virtue in it. For none of thy people 
has applied himself more diligently to the worship of our gods than 
I, and yet there are many who receive greater favours from thee, 
and are more prosperous in their undertakings. If the gods were 
good for anything they would favour me who have been more careful 
to serve them. If therefore on examination thou findest these new 
doctrines better, let us receive them without delay." As soon as 
he had spoken a thane stepped forward and said : " The present 
life of man, king, compared with that part of our existence which 
is unknown to us, is like the flight of a sparrow through the hall 
where, round a blazing fire, with thy nobles and servants, thou 
sittest at supper in the winter time, whilst storms of rain and snow 
rage without. The sparrow flying in at one door and out at the 
other is happy only during the short space when he is within the 
hall ; as he came from winter, so he vanishes into winter again. It 
is the same with the short span of man's life ; of what went before, 
or what is to come after, we are utterly ignorant. If therefore this 
new doctrine can tell us something more certain, it deserves to be 
received." He was followed by many other elders and royal coun- 
cillors; after which, at Coifi' s request, Paulinus expounded the 
Christian doctrine : whereupon the chief priest cried out : "I have 
long been sensible that there was nothing in that which we worship, 
because the more diligently I sought after truth, the less I found 
it ; but now I confess that in this preaching truth itself shines 
forth, which is able to confer on us life, salvation and eternal happi- 

aspect." This description was derived by Bede through the abbot Deda, from 
an aged man who had himself been baptized by Paulinus in the Trent. 


ness. I advise, king, that we instantly abandon and set fire to 
our unprofitable temples and altars." When the king inquired of 
him who should be the first to profane the ancient sanctuaries, he 
answered : " I ; for who should more properly than myself destroy 
those things which through ignorance I worshipped ? " Then taking 
arms and mounting a stallion (neither of which was lawful for a 
priest), he rode to the spot where the chief temple stood. The 
people thought him mad, but without heeding them, as soon as 
he drew near, he cast his spear against it and defiled it, and at his 
bidding his attendants burnt it with all its precincts. 1 

The king was baptized, and Christianity became the religion of 
Northumbria. The blessings of peace followed quickly in its train. 
" In those times," says one of our old chroniclers, " was so great a 
peace that a woman might go from one town to another unharmed. 
King Edwin," he adds, " caused brass or iron cups to be fastened 
beside the clear wells for the refreshment of wayfarers, and so good 
justice did he keep, that no man dared take them away." But at 
Edwin's death two ursurpers who were pagans shared his kingdom 
between them, and the Northumbrians relapsed into idolatry. The 
eclipse however did not last long. The two kings dying, Oswald,, 
the rightful heir, ascended the throne, and restored the Christian 
faith. He had been an exile amongst the Scots, where he had 
learnt to esteem the Gospel as the first of blessings. As soon 
therefore as he was seated on the throne, he sent, not to Borne or 
to Canterbury, but to Iona for a missionary to teach the people 
anew. It is said that a monk of austere manners was at first 
chosen for this service, but, unable to condescend to the weaknesses 
and wants of a rude people, he effected notbing, and returned home 
declaring that the Northumbrians were too barbarous to be in- 
structed. There was present when the missionary gave in his 
report, a monk named Aidan, severely ascetic in his personal habits, 
but full of charity and gentleness towards others. This man as- 
cribed the missionary's want of success to his own fault, and 

1 This spot, called by Bede Godmunddingaham, that is, Protecting home of 
the gods, is identified with Goodmanham, near Market Weighton, upwards of 
twenty miles E.S.E. of York. If this be so, and if the conference was held, as 
it is said, on the Derwent, the high-priest must have had a ride of some twelve 
to fifteen miles. The village church, which stands on the crown of a gentle 
hill at the southern edge of the Wolds, is supposed to occupy the site of the old 
shrine. In the lower part of the tower are the remains of a Norman doorway, 
and within a porch on the south side there is a semi-circular arch ; the rest of 
the church is of various periods, none earlier than the fifteenth century. Within 
are two stone fonts, the smaller of which is ancient, although there can be no- 
foundation for the tradition that Coifi was baptized in it. 


suggested that he ought, like Paul, to have fed his untutored 
hearers first with milk, until by degrees they should have acquired 
strength to receive more perfect counsel. All present exclaimed 
that Aidan himself was the fittest man for the work ; and he was 
accordingly consecrated a bishop and sent into Northumbria, 
a.d. 635. 

The king gave him, as his episcopal seat, the island of Lindis- 
farne, afterwards called Holy Island, which was visible, at a dis- 
tance of about six miles, from his own castle of Bamborough. Be- 
tween Aidan and the king a warm friendship grew up. One Easter 
Day when they were sitting at table together, with a silver dish full 
of dainties before them, and were just ready to bless the bread, the 
king's almoner came suddenly in to tell him that a multitude of 
needy persons from all parts were sitting in the street expecting 
alms of him. The king immediately ordered the viands to be 
carried to the poor, and the silver dish to be cut in pieces and 
divided among them. Aidan, deeply impressed with the action, 
took the king's right hand in his, and said, " May this hand never 
perish." And so it was, according to the good old chronicler, who 
is ever ready to credit the miraculous ; when the king was slain in 
battle, his right arm, which had been severed from his body, 
remained entire and un corrupted, and was preserved down to 
Bede's time in a silver case in St. Peter's church, Bamborough. 

The first church on Lindisfarne was built after the manner of 
the Scots, of split oak, thatched with coarse grass. Here Aidan 
preached to the chiefs and the royal household, the king himself 
acting as interpreter. But as soon as he had mastered the English 
language Aidan travelled through Northumbria, preaching and 
conversing with the people. 1 "He taught," saysBede, "no other- 
wise than he lived ; he neither sought nor loved anything of this 
world. He journeyed on foot, never using a horse except when 
compelled by some urgent necessity. All who bore him company, 
whether shaven monks or laymen, unlike the slothfulness of our 
times, occupied themselves in reading the Scriptures or learning 
psalms. If it happened, which was but seldom, that he was invited to 
eat with the king, he went with one or two of the clergy, and having 
taken a small repast, made haste to be gone in order to read or pray* 
Whatever gifts he received from the rich he distributed amongst 
the poor, or expended in redeeming captives, many of whom he 

1 The county of Durham, except some cultivated patches near its hamlets 
and vils, was then in a state of nature, large tracts of land being covered with. 
forests of magnificent oak, the haunt of beasts of the chase. 



educated as priests." "The religious habit," continues Bede, 
"was then held in great veneration; so that wheresoever any 
clerk or monk came he was joyfully received by all as God's ser- 
vant; and such as chanced to meet him upon the way ran and 
bowed to him, and rejoiced to be signed by his hands or blessed 
with his lips. On the Lord's days the people flocked eagerly to the 
churches or monasteries, not to feed their bodies, but to hear the 
word of the grace of God. Priests, and clergy too, were so free 
from the plague of avarice, that no one received lands or possessions 
for building a monastery, unless it were enforced by the ruler of the 
country." Aidan was alive to the value of education. He himself 
taught twelve Saxon youths, and as new monasteries were founded 
they became schools under the care of the monks who had followed 
him from Scotland. 

As with Augustine and the Britons, the differences between the 
Boman and Scoto-Irish discipline came early into view, especially 
the time of observing Easter. 1 Bishop Aidan and the king observed 
the Scottish rule ; but the queen had been brought up in the Boman 
practice, so that whilst her husband was joyfully celebrating Easter, 
she was still observing a rigorous fast. During Aidan's lifetime 
this difference was not suffered to disturb the peace of the church. 
Bede generously remarks : " Although bishop Aidan could not keep 
Easter contrary to the custom of those who had sent him forth, yet 
he took every pains to promote piety, faith and charity after the 
manner of all holy men." 

But after Aidan's death the diversity of practice soon led to dis- 
sension. Aidan was succeeded in the bishopric by Finan, 652, and 
he again by Colman, 661, both like Aidan monks from Iona. King 
Oswald's successor, Oswy, followed the practices of the Scottish 
Church ; his queen Eanfled, a Kentish princess, was, like her pre- 
decessor, devoted to the Boman ritual. Foremost amongst the 
Saxons educated at Lindisfarne was Wilfrid, a youth of great 
energy and intelligence. Wishing to compare the customs of the 
Northumbrian Church with those which claimed to be Catholic, he 
was sent by Queen Eanfled to Gaul and Borne, and came back full 
of zeal for the Boman usages. On his return the king's son Alfrid 
made him abbot of the monastery of Bipon, displacing the Scottish 
monks for whom he had founded that cloister. 

1 The intolerance seems not to have been all on one side. Augustine's suc- 
cessor in the see of Canterbury, Laurentius, complains that the Scottish bishop 
Dagan, coming into England, refused to eat with him and his fellow bishops, 
and even to break bread in the same house with them. 


The dispute concerning Easter came to its height in 664, when 
King Oswy called a synod at Whitby to bring it to a settlement. On 
the part of the Scots appeared bishop Colman and a Northumbrian 
bishop named Cedd, who had preached the Gospel amongst the 
East Saxons with great diligence, self-denial and success. They 
were supported by the saintly Hilda, in whose abbey the conference 
was held, in the presence of the king, the queen, and Prince Alfrid. 
On the other side were Agilbert bishop of the West Saxons, a 
native of Gaul, and Wilfrid, who from Agilbert's ignorance of 
English was the spokesman of the party. Bishop Colman argued 
for the Scottish practice from the authority of the apostle John, 
and the custom of the churches founded by him. 1 Wilfrid took his 
stand upon the custom of Eome and " of the Church of Christ in 
every land, except only these Scots and their accomplices in obsti- 
nacy, the Picts and Britons, who from these two remote islands of 
the ocean foolishly fight against the whole world." He ensconced 
himself in the authority of Peter, and asked "if even the holy 
Columba was to be preferred to the apostle on whom Christ had 
built his Church, and given him the keys of the kingdom of heaven." 
On hearing this the king exclaimed, "Is it true, Colman, that these 
words were spoken to Peter by our Lord?" Colman answered, 
" It is true, king." " Can you show any such power given to 
your Columba?" " We cannot," replied Colman. " Do you both 
agree that these words were principally directed to Peter, and that 
the keys of heaven were given to him by our Lord ? " They both 
answered, " We do." Upon this the king declared, " I say that 
Peter is the doorkeeper, and I will not contradict him, but obey 
him in all things, lest when I come to the gates of heaven there 
should be none to open them, he who holds the keys being my 
adversary." Bishop Cedd submitted; but Colman, says Bede, 
perceiving that his doctrine was rejected and his sect despised, 
renounced his charge and went back into Scotland, accompanied 
by all who would not accept the Roman Easter and the Roman 
tonsure. From this hour the English Church was wholly subject 
to Rome. 

Wilfrid was in course of time appointed archbishop of York, and 
went to France to be consecrated by the Gallic bishops. On his 

1 We have seen that the Scots were not Quarto-decimanians (see ante, p. 267). 
" Colman," says Bede, " celebrated Easter, not like the Jews, on the fourteenth 
of the month, whatsoever the day of the week might be, but on the Lord's day, 
from the fourteenth to the twentieth." It may be that Colman cited the 
apostle John in a traditionary way, without clearly understanding the point 
at issue. 


return the vessel was stranded on the coast of Sussex. This, the- 
last kingdom in the Heptarchy to he Christianized, was still almost 
wholly pagan. The savage inhabitants, who were merciless 
wreckers, rushed down to plunder the ship. At their head was a 
priest who, like " another Balaam," stood on a rising ground 
uttering spells and curses. "Wilfrid on board the vessel, "like 
Moses and Aaron when Joshua fought with Amalek," withstood 
him by fervent prayer ; whilst the crew made a stout resistance. 
A stone from a sling struck the pagan priest on the forehead, and 
put an end to his enchantments and his life. His fall only ex- 
asperated the barbarians. Thrice they renewed their attack upon, 
the little band, and thrice they were beaten off. As they were 
preparing for a fourth assault, the returning tide floated the ship, 
which sailed along the coast and arrived safely at Sandwich, whence 
they returned to Northumbria. 

After occupying the see of York with renown for several years, 
"Wilfrid became involved in disputes with the king, was degraded 
from his dignity, and subjected to hardship and exile. In his 
adversity he remembered the rude people of Sussex, and how 
greatly they stood in need of Christian teaching. The king and 
queen of the South Saxons had both been baptized, and there was 
a small monastery of five or six Irish monks at Bosham, near 
Chichester, who " served the Lord in poverty and humility, but to 
whom none of the natives gave heed ; " with these exceptions Wil- 
frid found the kingdom almost entirely heathen. The arts of life 
were hardly better understood than the precepts of the Gospel. 
Although the sea and the rivers abounded in fish, the people had 
no skill to take any but eels. Wilfrid made his men collect the 
eel-nets and cast them into the sea ; they caught three hundred 
fishes of divers kinds, one-third of which they gave to the poor,, 
another to the owners of the nets, and kept one-third for them- 
selves. Wilfrid's preaching was very successful ; nobles, priests 
and people flocked to him to be baptized; and the king granted him 
as the seat of his bishopric the peninsula of Selsey, 1 with all its 
lands, chattels, and inhabitants. Here he established a monastery 
and school, and finding in his new domain two hundred and fifty 
men and women slaves, " all these, as by baptizing them he saved 
them from the servitude of the devil, so by giving them freedom he 

1 When Lanfranc removed the episcopal sees from the villages, Selsey was 
transferred to Chichester. In the south aisle of the choir of this cathedral some 
Saxon bas-reliefs brought from thence are still to be seen. 

GEDM0N. 277 

loosed them from the yoke of human bondage." By this act he 
set a noble example. 1 

We have spoken of Hilda. Whitby Abbey contained houses for 
men as well as women, all under the direction of this " Northum- 
brian Deborah." 2 One of the monks was Csedmon, the first 
English poet, of whom Bede has left a brief but charming notice. 
" There was," he writes, " a certain brother who, with much 
sweetness and humility, made pious verses in his native language. 
Before he entered the monastery he had lived many years without 
learning the art of versifying, so that at entertainments when for 
the sake of mirth all the guests sang in turn, as soon as he saw the 
instrument come towards him he rose from the table and went 
home. Once on a time, having left the feast and gone to the 
stable, where it was his business that night to attend to the 
horses, when he had finished his work he composed himself to 
sleep. In his sleep One appeared to him and said, Caedmon, sing 
some song to me.' He answered, * I cannot sing ; I left the enter- 
tainment and retired to this place because I could not sing.' He 
who talked with him replied, ' Thou shalt however sing.' ' What 
shall I sing ? ' asked Caedmon. ' Sing the Creation,' was the 
answer. Upon which he sang 

Nu we sceolan herian Now must we praise 

heofon-rices weard. the Guardian of heaven's kingdom, 

metodes mihte the Creator's might, 

and his mod-ge-thonc. and his mind's thought ; 

wera wuldor-f aeder. glorious Father of men ! 

swa he wundra gehwtes as of every wonder He, 

ece dryhten Lord eternal, 

-oord onstealde. formed the beginning. 

he aerest gesceop He first framed 

eorthan bearnum for the children of earth 

heofon to hrofe the heaven as a roof, 

halig scyppend. holy Creator ! 

tha middangeard Then mid earth 

moncynnes weard the Guardian of mankind, 

ece dryhten the eternal Lord, 

setter teode afterwards produced ; 

1 The redemption of slaves was long a principal duty of the religious houses. 
In Doomsday no slave is registered in York, and few in the neighbouring 
counties. At the Council of Celchyth (in Mercia), a.d. 816, bishops were 
directed by their wills to free all bondsmen of English descent, whom the 
Church had acquired during their administration. 

2 Several such double monasteries existed in Saxon England ; they seem to 
have prospered for a time, but were soon discontinued. 


firnm foldan the earth for men, 

frea selmihtig. 1 the Lord almighty. 

"When he awoke he remembered what he had sung in his dream; 
and much more to the same effect came into his mind. He went 
to the town-reeve of "Whitby to acquaint him with the gift he had 
received, and by him was conducted to the abbess, to whom in the 
presence of many learned men he told his dream and repeated his 
verses. It was seen by all that the Lord had bestowed upon him 
heavenly grace ; and the abbess urged him to lay aside his secular 
habit and enter upon the monastic life, directing that he should be 
thoroughly instructed in the Bible. u Retaining in his memory all 
he learnt, and as it were chewing the cud, he turned the sacred 
history into most harmonious verse. He sang the creation of the 
world, the origin of man, the departure of the children of Israel out 
of Egypt and their entrance into the land of promise ; the incarna- 
tion, passion and resurrection of our Lord, and his ascension into 
heaven, the descent of the Holy Ghost, and the preaching of the 
Apostles, the terror of the judgment to come, the pains of hell and 
the delights of heaven." 

When the time of his decease drew near, Csedmon, being taken 
sick, desired his attendant to prepare a room for him in a hospital 
which was nigh at hand. As his master was still able to walk and 
eonverse, the attendant wondered at the order, but did as he was 
bid. The poet talked cheerfully and playfully with the other 
inmates of the hospital until past midnight, when he asked if they 
had the Eucharist. His companions answered, "What need of the 
Eucharist? thou art not going to die." "Nevertheless," he 
answered, "bring me the Eucharist." Having taken it into his 
hand, he asked whether they were all of unruffled mind towards 
him, free from all controversy and rancour. They answered they 
were all in perfect charity, and inquired whether he was in the 
same mind towards them? He replied, "My children, I am in 
charity with all the servants of God." Having strengthened him- 
self with the heavenly viaticum, 2 he inquired if the time was near 
when the brethren were to be awakened to sing the Nocturns. They 
replied, " It is not far off." He answered, " It is well ; let us wait 
for that hour ; " and " signing himself with the sign of the holy 
cross, he laid his head on the pillow, and falling asleep, so in silence 
ended his life." 

1 Thorpe, Cadmon's Metrical Bible. Bede gives the verses in Latin ; King. 
Alfred's version of Bede's history gives Ctedmon's original words as above. 
3 Death-bed communion ; literally, provision for a journey. 



Of Caedmon's poem (if indeed it be his), only one ancient copy, 
and that anonymous, is extant, written apparently in the tenth 
century. It was given by Archbishop Ussher to the learned Junius, 
who printed it and afterwards bequeathed it to the Bodleian 
library. Milton probably saw it before he composed his Paradise 
Lost. The poem contains some fine passages. 1 

" Caedmon's poetry," remarks Milman, " was the people's Bible. 
. . . He chose by the natural test of his own kindred sympathies, 
all which would most powerfully work on the imagination, or strike 
to the heart of a rude yet poetic race." 

In the same year that Aidan died, so Bede relates, a youthful 
shepherd in the hill country of Lauderdale, now in the county of 
Berwick, but then forming part of Northumbria, was watching his 
flock by night, when a company of angels appeared to him, singing 
hymns of triumph, and bearing up to heaven a newly-departed 
soul. He awoke his fellow- shepherds, who only laughed at his 
tale ; but when he learned that bishop Aidan had passed away at 
that very time, he left them, and rode down to Melrose, 2 where 

1 Satan's fall is thus described : 

Then was the Mighty angry ; 
The highest Ruler of heaven 
Hurled him from the lofty seat. 

He must seek the gulf 
Of hard hell-torment, 
For that he had warr'd with heaven's 

The fiend with all his comrades 
Fell then from heaven above, 
Through as long as three nights and 


Satan harangued, 

Sorrowing spoke, 

He who hell thenceforth 

Should rule. 

He was erst God's angel, 

Fair in heaven, 

Until him his mind urged, 

And his pride 

Most of all, 

That he would not 

The Lord of Hosts' 

Word revere. 

Boiled within him 

His thought about his heart 

Hot was without him 

His dire punishment. 

Then spake he the words : 

" This narrow place is most unlike 

That other that we ere knew, 

High in heaven's kingdom. 

1 had I power of my hands ! 

Then with this host I 

But around me lie 

Iron bonds ; 

Presseth this cord of chain : 

I am powerless ! 

Here is a vast fire 
Above and underneath ; 
Never did I see 
A loathlier landscape ; 
The flame abateth not." 

* This was not the identical Melrose with which Scott has made us familiar, 
and which was a later foundation a short distance higher up the Tweed. 


some Scottish monks from Lindisfarne had reared a monastic 
house. Here he applied for admission into the brotherhood, and 
was readily received. A few years afterwards Cuthbert, for this 
was the name of the shepherd youth, made one of that colony of 
Scottish monks, which Prince Alfrid first planted at Eipon, and 
then sent back to their own country to make way for Wilfrid and 
his Anglo-Romans. 1 On his return to Melrose Cuthbert devoted 
himself to missionary work, of which there was urgent need, for the 
people around were addicted to magic and sunk in ignorance. 2 

In 664 he was promoted to be prior of Lindisfarne, where he set 
an example of devotion and self-denial. As time went on, the 
spirit of asceticism grew upon him, and he forsook the island, 
retiring to a solitary place on the mainland, and thence to one of 
the little islands of Fame, lying to the southward. This islet 
*' consists of a few acres of ground, partially covered with grass, 
and hemmed around with an abrupt border of basaltic rock." 
Here the more completely to exclude what little was left of the 
outer world, he raised a wall of turf and stone which he could not 
see over ; and within this enclosure built an oratory and a hut of 
driftwood thatched with straw. His cell had but one window, and 
this after a while he closed, never opening it, except to give his 
blessing when his brethren from Lindisfarne, or strangers, came to 
seek it. At the place of anchorage he set up another cabin to 
shelter his visitors. On this island he passed nine years. In 684, 
with great difficulty and only by the personal entreaty of King 
Egfrid, who crossed over to Fame for that purpose, he was 
induced to abandon his hermitage, and to accept the bishopric of 

For two years Cuthbert faithfully discharged the episcopal duties, 
and then resigned his see to retire again to his beloved cell, that he 
might die there in peace. Early in 686 he was seized with his 
death-sickness. Herefrid prior of Lindisfarne visited him, and 
after receiving directions for his burial, went home, purposing 
shortly to return ; but a storm arising, five days elapsed before he 
could venture to recross. On the sixth day Herefrid, with a party 

1 See above, p. 274. 

2 He feared not to travel in the most inaccessible districts, on rugged moun- 
tains and by toilsome paths, where the people alike from their poverty and 
ignorance were quite neglected by others, and he often remained away two or 
three weeks, or a month even, from the monastery, dwelling among the 
mountaineers, and teaching them both by word and by the example of his 


ef his monks, found Cuthbert sitting in the little guest-chamber at 
the landing-place. For five days and nights he had not tasted 
anything nor moved from the spot. The monks carried him into 
his oratory, where he uttered his last request, that should they ever 
he compelled to desert their home, his remains should accompany 
them wherever they went. 1 When he died, which was at midnight, 
Herefrid lighted a couple of torches and waved them in the air as a 
signal to Lindisfarne. Cuthbert is said to have wrought many 
miracles, the fame of which after his death spread far and wide, and 
laid the foundation of the extraordinary influence and wealth of the 
see of Durham. 

Lindisfarne was for many years a centre of learning and of 
ecclesiastical power. Before the conversion of York into a metro- 
politan see under Wilfrid, its bishop wielded jurisdiction from the 
Firth of Clyde to the Humber. 2 In how great a degree art and 
learning had taken up their abode in this remote corner of Christen- 
dom is seen in the celebrated Durham Book, an illuminated copy of 
the Gospels in the Vulgate version of Jerome written at this 
period. 8 This, one of the most beautiful manuscripts in Europe, is 
& memorial of the pious care of the monks of Lindisfarne. One 
abbot after another took his part in the labour of love. Eadfrith,* 
who followed Cuthbert in the bishopric and abbacy, and whose 
chief mission was to spread the glory of his predecessor, began to 
transcribe the work probably during Cuthbert's lifetime, and laid it 
reverently on its completion upon the shrine of the saint ; Ethil- 
wald, 5 who succeeded Eadfrith, gave the covers ; Billfrith, the 
anchorite, wrought the ornaments and jewelled work upon the 

1 This charge was faithfully kept ; but the incursions of the Danes made its 
fulfilment a very arduous matter. For many years the body was carried about 
to various places in Northumbria and Cumbria, and once was even taken on 
board a ship to be conveyed to Ireland. At last it found a resting-place on the 
summit of the hill at Durham, then covered with wood. Here a church was 
commenced, the parent of the present stately cathedral. 

2 The original rude church was replaced by a cathedral of stone. This was 
pulled down in 1093, when the see was transferred to Durham, and the Priory 
Church, whose picturesque ruins still adorn the island, was erected out of its 
materials. No trace now exists of the original monastic buildings. The name 
Holy Island, in memory of the martyrs in the Danish massacre, was given in 
1093. Some remains of Cuthbert's cell are, it is said, still to be seen on Fame 

3 It is the earliest specimen extant of Saxon calligraphy and decoration. 

* Bishop from a.d. 698 to 721. 
5 Bishop from a.d. 724 to 740. 



outside. Thus far it would seem was the work completed in the 
early part of the eighth century, and it was not until the middle of 
the tenth that Aldred the priest, still animated as the previous 
labourers had been by devotion to the memory of Cuthbert, added, 
in a small current hand, the interlinear Saxon version. The book 
was justly esteemed a priceless treasure by the island monks. They 
bore it with them when fleeing from the ravages of the Northmen^ 
Once in the ninth century the monks were essaying to cross the 
channel to Ireland when the precious volume fell into the sea. 
Great was their joy to discover it three days after, stranded on the 
coast at Whithorn, bearing only the stains of sea-water, which are 
still visible. The book remained at Lindisfarne until the dissolu- 
tion of the monasteries, and has since found its way to the British 
Museum, where it is now preserved. The volume is a square folio, 
written on vellum in double columns in the half-uncial character. 
It contains whole-page pictures of the four Evangelists, and four 
pages also of rich lace-work ornament of a Eunic character round 
the figure of a cross. These illuminations with the capital letters 
are all richly and delicately coloured. The accompanying chromo- 
graph represents rather more than half the right-hand column of 
folio 83. 

Matthew v. 38. 

bithon vel-irom 

Eadge tha thaerfendo of-gaste 

[3] Beati pauperes spmiu 

forthon hiora is 
quoniam ipsorum est 

ric heofna 

regnum caelorum 

Eadge bithon tha 
thserfende thcet is un 
spoedge menn 
vel unsynnige 
forthon hia 
agan godes r[ic] 


M xxvi 

Eadge bithon 
[5] Beati 

tha milde forthon 
mites quoniam 

tha agnegath 
ipsi posidebunt 


Forthon tha milde 
gbyes hli'giendr[a] 

T Eadge bithon tha the gemaenas 

M xxvn [4] Beati qui lugunt 

Lu XLVin forthon tha 

quoniam ipsi 

gefroefred bithon 








= i 



^ * fc J? ff *k* 


Ho w 

erg* Sister 




T Eadge bithon tha the hyncgrath 

M xxvm [6] Beati qui esuriunt 

La xl vii 

M xxvmi [7] 



& thyrstas sothfaestnisse 
et sitiunt iustitiam 

forthon tha ileo 
quoniam ipsi 

gefylled bithon vel geriorded 

Eadge bithon 


forthon hiora vel tha 
quoniam ipsi 


him gefylges 

Eadge bithon claene of hearte 
vel from 
Beati mundo corde 

forthon tha god 
quoniam ipsi ieum 

Blessed are the poor of spirit 
Blessed are the poor in spirit 

for theirs is 
for theirs is 

(the) kingdom of heaven 
the kingdom of heaven 

Blessed are the mild (meek) 
[5] Blessed are the meek 


they shall own 
they shall inherit 

(the) earth 
the earth 

Blessed are those that mourn 
[4] Blessed are they that mourn 

for they 
for they 

Eadge bithon 
tha the thyrstas 
& hyncgras 
after sothfsest 
nisse forthon tha 
gefylled bithon 
in ece lif 

Eadge bithon tha- 
claene hearte 
bute esuice 
& eghwoelcum 
facne forthon 
hia geseas 
god in ecnise 

Blessed are the 
destitute that is 
poor men 
[or] innocent 
for they 
own God's 

For the mild 
shall inhabit (the) 
higher earth 

shall be comforted 
shall be comforted 



Blessed are those that hunger 
[6] Blessed are they that hunger 

and thirst for truth 

and thirst after righteousness 

for the same 
for they 

shall be filled or refreshed 
shall be filled 

Blessed are (the) merciful 
[7] Blessed are the merciful 

for their or the 
for they 


follows them 
shall obtain 

Blessed are (the) clean of heart 
[8] Blessed are the pure in heart 

for they God 
for they God 

Blessed (are) 
those that thirst 
and hunger 
after truth 
for they 
shall be filled 
in eternal life 

Blessed are the 
without deceit 
and wickedness 
every for 
they shall see 
God in eternity 


The interlinear translation and marginal gloss are in the Dano-Saxon dialect, 
which differs in many particulars from the Anglo-Saxon. 

It will be noticed that verses 4 and 5 are not in the same order as in our New 
Testament, but are interchanged. This is their order in the Vulgate, which has 
been followed by Wicliffe. Tyndale and our modern translators follow the Greek 
order. In verse 4 the transcriber has made a mistake, lugunt for lugent. The 
fragments of words on the left in the Chromo belong to the other column of the 

The letters opposite verses [5] [4] [6] [7] are the Eusebian Canons. The M 
with the T above it stands for Matthew ; the x signifies the tenth canon or 
table, the u (v) the fifth. 

At the end of John's Gospel is the following note : 

ijl Eadfrith biscob lindis-fearnensis secclesiae he this boc aurat aet fruma 
gode. & sancte cuthberhte & allum thaem halgum gimaenlice tha the in eolonde 
sint. & Ethiluald lindis-fearneolondinga biscob hit uta githryde & gibelde sua 
he uel cuthae. & billfrith se oncrae he gismiothade tha gihrino thathe utan on 
sint & hit gihrinade mith golde & mith gimmum aec mith suulfre ofergylded 
faconleas feh : & Aldred presbyter indignus & miserrimus mith godes fultummse 
& sancti cuthberhtes hit ofergloesade on englisc. & hine gihamadi mith thaem 
thriim daelum. Matheus dael gode & sancti cuthberhti. Marcus dael thasm 
biscobe. & lucas dael thaem hiorode & cehtu ora seulfres mith to inlade: & 
sancti iohannis dael for hine seolfne & feouer ora seulfres mith gode & sancti 
cuthberhti thsete he hcebbe ondfong therh godes milsae on heofnum. seel & sibb 


on eortho forth-geong & githyngo uisdom & snyttro therh sancti cuthberhtea 

earnunga: >$< Eadfrith. oethiluald. billfrith. aldred. hoc evangelarium deo & 
cuthberhto construxerunt vel ornauerunt. 

iff Eadfrith, bishop of the Lindisfarne Church, (was) he (who) at the first 
wrote this book in honour of God and St. Cuthbert, and all the saints in common 
that are in the island. And Ethilwald, bishop of the people of the Lindisfarne 
island, made it firm on the outside, and covered it as well as he could. And 
Billfrith the anchorite, he wrought in smiths' work the ornaments that are on 
the outside, and adorned it with gold, and also with gems, overlaid with silver^ 
unalloyed metal. And Aldred, 1 an unworthy and most miserable priest, with 
the help of God and St. Guthhert, glossed it above in English, and made him- 
self familiar with the three parts : Matthew's part for God and St. Cuthbert ; 
Mark's part for the bishop; and Luke's part for the brotherhood, and eight 
oras 2 of silver for his admission ; and St. John's part for himself, and four oras 
of silver (deposited) with God and St. Cuthbert ; to the end that he may, 
through God's mercy, gain admittance into heaven, and on earth happiness and 
peace, promotion and dignity, wisdom and prudence, through St. Cuthbert's 
merits. |$| Eadfrith, ffithilwald, Billfrith, (and) Aldred made and adorned 
this gospel book for God and St. Cuthbert. 3 

The saintly Cuthbert was yet living when, in 674, Benedict Bis- 
cop, a noble Saxon, obtained from King Egfrid seventy hides of 
land on the north bank of the river Wear, and founded the abbey 
of Monkwearmouth. "Its church," as Bede informs us, "was a 
magnificent stone building in the Boman style, and was constructed 
by workmen brought over from France. When it was nearly 
finished, Biscop sent again to France for artificers skilled in making 
glass, and those foreigners not only fashioned the windows, but 
taught the natives the mystery of their art, by which lamps, cups, 
and an endless variety of useful and ornamental articles are formed 
with wonderful beauty and facility." Biscop's zeal prompted him 
to make several journeys to Borne, whence he brought back the art 
of Church music, many valuable books, and a copious supply of 
relics and pictures of Christ, the Virgin, the Twelve Apostles, &c.,. 
with which he adorned the roof and walls of his church. 4 

Biscop's fabric has not wholly perished. The church still stands 

Supposed by some writers to be the same with Aldred the provost,, whose 
name appears in the Durham Kitual about a.d. 970 ; but this is uncertain. It 
is considered, however, that the Dano-Saxon gloss belongs to the period just 
mentioned, namely, the latter half of the tenth century. 

2 The ora had two values, but was commonly reckoned at sixteen pence. 

3 In the foregoing description and elucidation of the Durham Book, we are 
specially indebted to Joseph Cohen of Woolwich for kind and valuable assist- 

4 The plate and vestments for the service of the church also came from 


in a third-rate street of the busy town of Sunderland, a memorial of 
England's religious zeal in the vigour of her childhood. The west 
porch and west wall are the very same that Benedict's skilful work- 
men from France raised under his eye, and on which Bede, in his 

Monkwearmouth Church. 

youthful wonder, gazed with so much delight. In proof of this the 
plan of the church and its style of ornamentation agree exactly with 
those of other " Saxon" churches of the seventh and eighth cen- 
turies. There is also a close and curious resemblance between the 
fragments of sculpture remaining on the Monkwearmouth stones 
and the illuminations in the Lindisfarne Gospels. Considering, 
remarks G. F. Browne, how very few there must have been who 
carried the art of " Irish ornamentation " to perfection, the hand 
which in so felicitous a manner handled the chisel at Monkwear- 
mouth was not improbably the same which, more than twenty 
years afterwards, drew the exquisite designs of the Lindisfarne 
Book. One of the fragments of the artist's work is a corner of a 
sculptured stone of yellowish tint built into the wall of the vestry, 



and which may perhaps be a portion of the memorial slab laid over 
the body of Benedict himself, hard by the altar of his church. 1 It 
is presented in the following woodcut, together with a pattern from 
one of the four great pages of interlacements in the manuscript. 

Fragment of Sculpture from Monkwearmouth Church. 

Corner of a Page of Ornamentation, Durham Book. 
1 Mr. Browne has kindly permitted us to copy his drawing of the sculpture. 


In 682 Biscop founded the sister monastery of Jarrow on the- 
Tyne, whither he transferred seventeen monks of the Wearmouth 
Convent under the direction of a learned priest named Ceolfrid. 1 
Ceolfrid was a pattern of discipline, a collector of books, and a 
great lover of Eome. After a while he was appointed by Biscop, 
abbot of Wearmouth as well as of Jarrow. He died a.d. 716 at 
Langres, in France, on his way toward Borne, where he intended 
to end his days. Bede has left a description of Ceolfrid's farewell 
to his [flock. The scene is the monastery of Monkwearmouth. 
"Early in the morning of the 4th of June, after mass had been 
sung in the church of the blessed Virgin mother of God, and also- 

Jarrow Church. 

in the apostle Peter's, and all present had received the Holy Com- 
munion, the abbot girded himself for his pilgrimage. The brethren 
crowded into the church, where Ceolfrid, after kindling the incense 
and praying before the altar, stood upon the steps, and, with the 
flaming censer in his hand, gave the salutation of peace. From the 

1 The church was dedicated a.d. 684. The present building, with a few 
remnants of the ancient priory, now converted into cottages, stands at the 
north end of the smoky and unsightly hive of industry which still bears the 
honoured name of Jarrow. It occupies a breezy though gentle eminence on 
the south shore of the Tyne, overlooking its broad and shallow waters. The- 
church has been modernised, but in this case, as in that of Monkwearmouth^ 
the base of the square tower is supposed to be the actual work of Biscop. 



church they proceeded, mingling their sobs with the Litany, into 
the oratory of St. Lawrence. Here Ceolfrid uttered his last fare- 
well, and exhorted them to preserve love to one another, and to 
correct offenders according to the Gospel. He forgave all who had 
ever incurred his displeasure, and craved the same forgiveness for 

Ceolfrid's Farewell. Designed for Edward Backhouse by W. B. Scott. 

himself, if on his part he had treated any too rigorously; and 
begged to be remembered in their prayers. They come to the river ; 
they exchange again, amid their tears, the kiss of peace, and all 
bow the knee whilst he prays aloud. He enters the boat, his 
companions entering also, the deacons carrying a golden cross and. 


lighted tapers. He crosses the stream, does reverence to the cross, 
and mounting his horse, disappears." 

Both Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrid had a part in the education 
of "Venerable Bede," the glory of the Anglo-Saxon Church. This 
remarkable man was born about the year 673, and at the age of 
seven, whilst the church was in building, was brought to Biscop at 
Monkwearmouth to be instructed in the rudiments of learning, and 
initiated in the discipline of the cloister. When only nineteen, 
being under the canonical age, he was made deacon, at thirty was 
ordained priest, and afterwards became abbot of the monastery of 
Jarrow, numbering at that time 600 monks and scholars. Here he 

Eeputed Chair of Bede, Jarrow. 

spent his life, giving daily instruction in the Scriptures and all the 
other learning of the age ; not a few of his disciples catching the 
enthusiasm of his gentle, humble spirit. Bede's life seems to have 
flowed on, "like a calm river, within the pleasant banks of study, 
teaching, and devotional exercises." 1 He tells us he never wan- 
dered far from his own cloister, and we have no account of any 
journey extending beyond York. His death happened in 735, in 
his sixty-third year. 

1 " I have ever held it sweet either to learn, to teach, or to write." He says 
also that he took part in the domestic work of the monastery, " the winnowing 
and threshing of corn, giving milk to the lambs and calves, and the work of the 
garden, kitchen, and bakehouse." 

bede's last days. '291 

His disciple Cuthbert, afterwards abbot of Jarrow, has left a 
touching description of Bede's last days in a letter to a fellow-pupil. 
"I have read with much satisfaction in thy letters that masses and 
holy prayers are diligently celebrated by you for our father and 
master Bede, beloved of God, on which account it is the more 
pleasing to me to gratify thy desire, and to relate how he departed 
this world. Although much troubled with shortness of breath, he 
was cheerful and joyful, till the day of our Lord's Ascension, reading 
lessons to us and singing psalms, and giving thanks to God night 
and day with expanded hands. He sang the sentence of St. Paul, 
' It is dreadful to fall into the hands of the living God,' and also 
the song in our English tongue [to the effect] , ' No man is so wise 
as to dispense with the examination of his account before his de- 
parture.' 1 He sang also antiphons according to our custom: '0 
Glorious King, Lord of Powers, who triumphing this day, didst 
ascend above the heavens ; do not forsake us orphans ; but send 
down upon us the Father's promised Spirit of Truth.' When he 
came to that word 'do not forsake us,' he burst into tears and 
wept much, and an hour afterwards he repeated what he had begun. 
We hearing it, wept with him; by turns we read, and by turns 
we wept, nay, we always read with tears. He often repeated, 

God scourges every son whom he receives,' and the saying of St. 
Ambrose : ' I have not so lived among you as to be ashamed to live 

on; but I do not fear to die because our Lord is good.' 2 He had 
two works in hand during those days the translation of the Gospel 
of St. John into our own tongue, and a selection from the Book 
of Notes of Bishop Isidore which he laboured to finish, saying, 

* I would not leave my children anything erroneous, or have them 
toil fruitlessly after my death.' On the Tuesday before Ascension 
his breathing became more difficult, and his feet began to swell ; 
but he passed the day pleasantly, dictating and saying, ' Go on 
quickly, I know not how long I shall abide, or whether my Maker 
will soon take me away.' Again on Wednesday, he desired we 
would write with speed, and when we had finished we made the 
customary procession with the relics of the saints till the third 
hour. Then one of us who was with him said, ' Most dear master, 
there is still one chapter of the Gospel untranslated, is it trouble- 
some to thee to be asked any more questions ? ' He answered, ' It 
is no trouble, take thy pen and write fast.' But at the ninth hour 
he said to me, ' Run and bring hither the priests of the monastery.' 
When they came, ' The rich,' he said, ' can make presents of silver 

1 See ante, p. 154. 2 See ante, p. 70. 


and gold ; I have none of these, but with love and joy I present my 
brethren with what God has given me.' Thus saying he distributed 
amongst them a few peppercorns and grains of frankincense, with 
some church cloths, and charged them diligently to say masses and 
prayers for him. ' It is time,' he said, ' I returned to Him who 
formed me out of nothing. I have lived long, my merciful judge 

Death of Bede. Designed for Edward Backhouse by W. B. Scott. 

well foresaw my life for me; the time of my dissolution draws near;: 
I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.' Much more he 
spoke, and passed the day joyfully till the evening, when the 
lad said, 'Dear master, there is yet one sentence to write.' He 
answered, ' Write quickly.' Presently afterwards the youth said 
again, ' Now it is finished.' He replied, ' Thou hast said the truth, 
it is ended. Hold my head in thy hands ; it is a great satisfaction to- 
me to sit opposite to the holy place where I have been wont to pray,. 

bede's leakning. 298 

that I may call upon my Father, singing, ' Glory he to the Father, 
and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.' With these words he 
breathed his last, and we doubt not his soul was borne by angels 
unto heavenly joys." 

Bede wrote many books, the most renowned of which is his 
Ecclesiastical History of Britain. 1 In his attainments he was abreast 
of all the learning and science of the age. Under Benedict Biscop 
and Ceolfrid he enjoyed exceptional advantages. "Nowhere else 
could he acquire at once the Irish, the Boman, the Gallician, and 
the Canterbury learning." 2 Bede understood Greek, and had some 
knowledge of Hebrew, was well acquainted with the Latin poets, and 
familiar with the works of the Fathers. 8 There was at that time no 
spot on this side the Alps more luminous than Jarrow : in Ireland 
and France, the light of knowledge was fast waning. The culture 
of Jarrow passed over to the school of York, which was fostered, 
though not founded by Bede ; and Alcuin, the most illustrious pupil 
of that school, carried the lamp of learning across the sea to the 
court of Charles the Great, before the ravages of the Danes plunged 
England again into barbarism. 4 

Bede's Homilies on the Gospels contain many bright spiritual 
thoughts. Take the following example (John ii. 1-11). " And 
when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They want 
wine. Jesus said to her, "Woman, what have I to do with thee ? 
Mine hour is not yet come.' In nowise did He who commands us 
to honour father and mother intend to dishonour his mother; 
still less did He mean to deny that she was his mother, from whom 
He had condescended to be born. But in that He was about to 
perform a miracle, He signified that He had not received from his 
temporal mother that divine nature which He was proceeding to 
.exhibit, but that He had enjoyed it eternally from the Father. 
1 What, woman, is there in common between my Deity, which 

1 It was translated from the Latin into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred. 

2 Theodore, seventh archbishop of Canterbury, 668-690, was a Greek, a 
native of Paul's city of Tarsus. He was accompanied to England by the abbot 
Adrian. They brought with them a valuable library, and are regarded as the 
founders of English scholarship. The larger monasteries were converted into 
schools of learning, Canterbury being the chief. " Many of their disciples," 
says Bede, " are still living, who are as well versed in Greek and Latin as in 
their native tongue." 

8 Copies of the Vulgate New Testament and of Cassiodorus on the Psalms in 
Bede's own handwriting are in the Chapter Library at Durham. 

4 It is said on King Alfred's accession, a.d. 872, not a single priest was to be 
found south of the Thames who understood the daily Latin service which he 


I have always held indissolubly with the Father, and the human 
nature which I have received from thee ? The hour is not yet come 
when by dying I may show the prevailing nature of the humanity . 
which I have received from thee : I must previously exhibit the ; 
power of the Eternal Deity in great signs.' " 

After the death of Bede, we hear nothing of the two monasteries 
of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow until the fatal year 870, when, with 
Lindisfarne and the other religious houses on the coast, they were : 
utterly destroyed by the Danes, and monks, priests and people put j 
to the sword. 

Two hundred years afterwards they were restored by Aldwin, a 
Mercian monk, but in 1083 were deprived of their independent 
existence, and became cells of Durham Cathedral. 


Beitish Missionaries to the German Nations. 

We must retrace our steps to give some account of the work of the 
Irish and English missionaries on the continent of Europe. These 
messengers were amongst the most faithful Witnesses for Christ 
from the sixth to the ninth century. In those days Ireland was 
perhaps the first of the nations in knowledge and gospel charity,; 
and the Irish Church, so far from being the most docile and devoted 
of Rome's servants, stood forth almost alone to resist her arbitrary 

The leader of this band, who commenced his missionary travels 
seven years before the arrival of Augustine in England, was Colum- 
banus. 1 He was born about 543 a.d. in the province of Leinster, 
and educated in the monastery of Bangor, on Belfast Lough, founded 
and governed by the abbot Comgall. At the age of thirty he 
conceived the idea of preaching the gospel to the pagan nations 
of Germany, some knowledge of whom had come into Ireland 
through France. The seed of Christianity had been early planted 
in those parts of Germany which were subject to the Roman Em- 
pire, but when these countries were overrun by barbarous pagan 
tribes, the precious plant was trodden down and almost eradicated. 

1 Not to be confounded with Columba of Iona spoken of in the last chapter, 
who was born forty years before. 


Columbanus felt within him, as his biographer expresses it, "that 
fire which our Saviour said He came to kindle on the earth." The 
abbot gave him twelve young men as his companions. Arriving in 
Gaul they found the need of Christian teaching in some parts of 
that country so urgent, that, being invited to remain, they settled 
in a forest of the Vosges mountains in the country of the Burgun- 
dians. Columbanus purposely chose a spot which had first to be 
reclaimed by the severe labour of his monks, in order that they 
might acquire greater power of self-denial and of control over the 
sensuous nature, and might also show the untutored people how to 
till the soil. At first they had nothing to live upon but herbs and 
the bark of trees ; but Columbanus had great faith in prayer, and 
the answers he received were so remarkable that he came to be 
regarded as one highly favoured by God. One of the brothers fell 
ill ; no suitable food for him was to be had. At the end of three 
days, spent by Columbanus and his monks in prayer, a man pre- 
sented himself at the door of the convent leading horses laden with 
sacks of provisions. He told them he had come in obedience to a 
sudden impulse to assist those who from love to Christ were 
enduring such privations in the wilderness. At another time a 
stranger priest, to whom Columbanus showed his granary, expressed 
his surprise that so small a store should suffice for the wants of so 
many; upon which Columbanus replied: "Let men but rightly 
serve their Creator, and they are secure from starvation, as it is 
written in the thirty- seventh psalm, I have never seen the righteous 
forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.' It is easy for that God to 
replenish the barrel with meal, who with five loaves of bread 
satisfied the five thousand." 

Columbanus found monachism in France in a state of decay, and 
the rule of Benedict almost forgotten. By his exhortations and 
example the enthusiasm for the monastic life revived, and was spread 
throughout France : the three great houses of Anegray, Luxeuil, and 
Fontaines were founded by him. He gave to his monks a new and 
stringent rule, borrowed from the rigid discipline of the Irish and 
Scottish monasteries. All self-will was to be mortified ; all the 
motions of the body and even the tone of the voice were regulated, 
chastisement following upon every transgression. 1 Perpetual silence 

1 Six strokes were the penalty for calling anything one's own, omitting to say 
Amen after the abbot's blessing, or to make the sign of the cross on one's spoon 
or candle, talking at meals, or failing to repress a cough at the beginning of a 
psalm. Ten strokes were the punishment for striking the table with a knife, or 
for spilling beer upon it. For heavier offences the number rose as high as two 
hundred, but in no case were more than twenty-five to be inflicted at once. An- 


was imposed, except on urgent occasions. Meat and wine, with 
which Benedict had indulged the weak and ailing, were forbidden 
to all. One meal only was allowed, namely, in the evening. 
" These excessive severities," says Montalembert, " discouraged no 
one. Columbanus up to the last day of his life saw an army of 
disciples collect around him, in sanctuaries more numerous and 
illustrious than those of Benedict. . . . The genius of Columbanus 
hovers over the whole of the seventh century, of all the centuries 
the most fertile in the number and fervour of its monastic establish- 
ments. "But," he is obliged to add, "before the century was com- 
pleted the rule of the great Irishman was everywhere replaced by 
the spirit and laws of his immortal predecessor." It was, in fact, 
impossible that so inhuman a discipline should in the end sup- 
plant Benedict's wiser rule, or should long survive the life of its 

Columbanus, however, was not altogether devoid of tenderness, 
and his command over men was unbounded. Once he was sum- 
moned from the solitude to which he had retired, by the- tidings that 
nearly all his monks in the monastery of Luxeuil were sick. He 
hastened thither and commanded them to rise up and go to work 
in the barn at threshing out corn. At the sound of his voice many 
of them, forgetting their malady, rose up and went to work. Very 
soon, however, he bade them desist, and telling them that they 
must allow a little refreshment to their bodies exhausted by disease, 
he placed food before them ; they ate and became well. Like good 
men in all ages, Columbanus found retirement for reading and 
meditation necessary to his spiritual life, and he might be seen 
from time to time wending his way into the dense forest for this 
purpose, bearing on his shoulder a copy of the Holy Scriptures. 
Although he insisted on the punctilious observance of outward 
practices, and imposed on his monks many devotional exercises 

selm, archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of William Eufus, rebuked this 
discipline of the stick still practised in his time. An abbot complained to him 
that the youths under his care were incorrigible, notwithstanding all the stripes 
he administered. "You are always beating your boys," replied Anselm; "what 
sort of men will they grow up? " " Stupid and brutish," answered the abbot 
" What else can you expect," said Anselm, " when you educate men into 
brutes?" "Is that our fault," answered the abbot; "we try to compel them 
in all manner of ways to be better, and yet we effect nothing." "You compel 
them ! " exclaimed Anselm. " If you were to plant a tree in your garden, and 
pen it in on all sides so that it could not spread out its branches in any 
direction, and should afterwards transplant it, what kind of a tree would it 
become? A useless stock with crooked, tangled branches. And whose fault 
would it be but yours who caged it in this unnatural fashion ? " 


which could not fail to become mechanical, yet he was careful to 
remind them that everything depends on the temper of the heart. 

In his intercourse with popes and bishops Columbanus main- 
tained the independent spirit of the Scoto-Irish Church. He wrote 
to Popes Gregory the Great and Boniface IV. on the vexed question 
of the time for keeping Easter, exhorting the former to reconsider 
the Paschal Cycle by which this festival was determined, without 
blindly following any former pope. "A living dog," he said, "may 
be better than a dead lion." He adduced the memorable example 
of the bishops Polycarp and Anicetus in the second century, who 
each maintained his own practice on this very question, and yet 
remained in mutual charity and unity. 1 He set the Church of 
Jerusalem above that of Rome ; and he admonished Pope Boni- 
face IV. that in proportion as the dignity of the Roman bishops 
was great, so ought their care to be great, lest by perversity they 
should lose it : " He only," he told him, " is the true key-bearer of 
the kingdom of Heaven, who by true knowledge opens the door for 
the worthy, and shuts it upon the unworthy, and he who acts 
otherwise can neither open nor shut." 

Columbanus' boldness in rebuking sin brought upon him the ill- 
will of the Frankish king Thierry II. and his wicked grandmother 
Brunehaut, and in 610 he was banished from the kingdom, and 
ordered to be taken back to Ireland. But the veneration he had 
inspired and the loftiness with which he vindicated his spiritual 
office were such that it was some time before any one would venture 
to execute the order, and the attempt when it was at length made 
was defeated by a storm. 

Instead of returning home he and his companions proceeded to 
Switzerland. His chief disciple was Gallus, 2 a well-educated young 
man, inflamed with zeal against the pagan idolatry. At Tugium 
{the modern Zug) he set fire to the temples of the Alemanni (or 
Suevi), and threw their idols into the lake. The people rose 
against him ; the monks were compelled to fly, and Columbanus, 
forgetful of his Master's spirit, devoted the whole race of the bar- 
barians to perdition. Coming to the Lake of Constance they were 
met by a Christian priest, who directed them to the remains of a 
Roman castle called Pregentia, 3 where they took up their abode. 
Here they rebuilt a ruined church, and supported themselves by 
fishing and horticulture. In common with the whole region of the 

1 See Early Church History, p. 97. 

2 In Erse, Callech. 

3 Bregetium, Bregenz, at the eastern end of the lake. 


Alps the country had become re-paganised, and the chief objects of 
worship were three statues in gilded brass. At a festival in honour 
of these idolYthe people assembled in unusual numbers, partly out 
of curiosity to see the strangers. Gallus preached to them in their 
own language, and then broke their idols in pieces and threw them 
into the lake. 

At the end of three years Columbanus left Pregentia, and crossing 
the Alps into Italy founded, near the city of Pavia, the celebrated 
monastery of Bobbio, a.d. 613. 1 Gallus having fallen sick was left 
behind. On his recovery he made his way into the forest on the 
south shore of the lake, where he erected an oratory with huts for 
his companions, and began to instruct the rude inhabitants of the 
country. This was the beginning of the monastery of St. Gall, 
the most illustrious in Switzerland both for learning and afterwards 
for wealth and political influence. Gallus died about a.d. 630. 

The next missionary from our islands of whom we shall speak, 
emanated not from the Irish but from the Saxon or Anglo-Roman 
Church. This was Winfrid, better known in history as Boniface, a 
name given to him by the pope. He was a man of extraordinary 
energy, and his labours in the mission-field attained great success. 
He had no sympathy with the independence of the British Churches*, 
but on the contrary constituted himself the ally and instrument of 
the papal see in extending the Boman discipline over a large por- 
tion of Central Europe, and in quenching every spark of independent 
practice and thought. 

Boniface was born at Crediton in Devonshire in the year 680, 
and trained in a convent at or near Exeter. " The passion for 
foreign travel, which seemed innate in the monks of the British 
islands, combined with the nobler desire of devoting his life to the 
conversion of pagan nations, constrained him to leave his native 
land." From 715 to 722 he laboured mostly in Friesland, but in 
the latter year, seeing in a dream the prospect of an abundant har- 
vest amongst the tribes in the interior of Germany, he directed his 
course to Hesse and Thuringia. 

During one of his journeys he arrived at a nunnery in the dis- 
trict of Treves, on the banks of the Moselle. After service the 
abbess and her guests repaired to the common hall, and as was 
customary a portion of Scripture was read during meal-time. The 
reader was Gregory, a lad of fifteen, a nephew of the abbess, and 

1 "An outpost of the Catholic faith in the midst of the Arian Lombards." 
Afterwards famous for its library, and especially for its numerous palimpsests 
(books written over more ancient works from scarcity of parchment). Colum- 
banus died here, a.d. 615. 


but lately returned from school. Boniface was pleased with the 
way in which the boy read his Latin Vulgate, and asked whether he- 
understood what he had read ? The boy, mistaking his question,, 
read the words a second time. " Nay, my son," said the mis- 
sionary, " that is not what I meant. I know thou canst read well 
enough, but canst thou translate the passage into thy own mother- 
tongue ?" The lad confessed he was unable to do so, upon which 
Boniface himself translated it into German, and then made it the 
ground of a brief exhortation to the company. His words fell on 
the listening ear of the young Gregory like the spark which kindles 
a flame, and the boy was seized with an unconquerable desire to 
accompany the preacher in his mission, declaring that if he was 
not provided with a horse he would go on foot. He is known 
amongst the band of mediaeval missionaries as Gregory of Utrecht. . 
The next year Boniface was summoned to Borne by Pope Gregory 
II., who consecrated him bishop over all the Churches he should 
found in Germany, giving him permission to travel whithersoever 
he would. On this occasion he took a solemn oath of implicit 
obedience to the Apostolic see. Kneeling at the tomb of the 
Apostle Peter, he uttered the words : "I promise thee, the chief of 
the apostles, and thy representative Pope Gregory and his succes- 
sors, that with God's help I will abide in the unity of the Catholic 
faith ; and if ever I find that the conduct of the presiding officers 
of churches contravenes the ancient decrees and ordinances of the 
Fathers, I will have no fellowship with such men, but will obstruct 
them all I can, and if unable to stop them, will report their con- 
duct faithfully to the pope." By this transaction, observes Neander, 
the question was settled whether the German Church should be in- 
corporated into the system of the Boman hierarchy, or whether 
there should proceed from it a reaction of freer Christian develop- 
ment. 1 This last would have taken place if the more free-minded 
British and Irish missionaries who were scattered among the Ger- 
man populations had acquired the preponderance. At Borne the 
danger which threatened from this quarter was well understood, 
and the commission which Boniface received was not only to con- 
vert the pagans, but quite as much to bring back to orthodoxy 
and obedience those whom " unauthorized " teachers had led 

Although Boniface had thus bound himself hand and foot to 
Borne, there can be no doubt whatever as to his zeal in labouring 
to turn the rude tribes from the darkness of paganism to the light 

1 Such a reaction did occur, but eight centuries had first to pass away. 


of the Gospel. By the year 739 he had baptized nearly a hundred 
thousand of the inhabitants of Thuringia and the neighbouring dis- 
tricts. These wholesale conversions, in effecting which he was 
powerfully seconded by the authority of Charles Martel, were no 
doubt many of them merely nominal ; but the suppression of 
idolatry, the abandonment of savage heathen customs and the sub- 
stitution of Christian worship and instruction, must have effected a 
great revolution in the minds and habits of the people. 

Boniface maintained frequent intercourse with England. The 
monasteries he founded were peopled with monks and nuns from 
^this country, who introduced various arts, and took with them 
books for the instruction of the youth. From Daniel bishop of 
Winchester, Boniface received wise counsel for his missionary 
work ; and Eadburga, abbess of Minster in the Isle of Thanet, 
supplied him with clothes and books, amongst which was a copy of 
Peter's Epistles, written in gold letters, to excite the admiration of 
the ignorant people who came to hear him. His eyes being weak, 
he asked his former teacher, the abbot Wimbert, to have a copy of 
the Prophets engrossed for him in plain large characters and with- 
out abbreviations. 

Boniface's oath to oppose such as were not in harmony with the 
Eomish tradition, did not remain a dead letter. He had several 
encounters with Church teachers of this description. One of these 
was Clement, an Irish missionary, of whom nothing is known save 
that he was married, that he defended from Scripture the marriage 
of bishops, and that he denied the writings of Jerome, Augustine, 
and Gregory the Great, and tbe canons of councils, to be binding 
on Christians. Another was Virgilius, also a native of Ireland, 
who was preaching the Gospel in Bavaria. An ignorant priest 
having, in the case of a baptism, pronounced the Latin formula in- 
correctly, Boniface declared the baptism to be invalid. Virgilius 
protested, and appealed to the pope, who decided in his favour. 
His heresy indeed seems to have been scientific rather than theolo- 
gical, for when he afterwards presented himself as a candidate for 
one of the bishoprics founded by Boniface, the latter refused to 
accept him because he held the " unscriptural opinion that the 

earth is a globe, and that consequently there are other men living 
under our feet." This time the pope agreed with Boniface, and 
directed that Virgilius should be deposed from his priestly office. 
Virgilius seems, however, to have succeeded in exculpating himself 
at Kome, for he afterwards became bishop of Salzburg and was 

enrolled amongst the "saints." 

That the anti-Romish opinions promulgated by the Irish mis- 


sionaries in France and Germany were widely diffused is evident 
from a letter written to Boniface by Pope Zacharias (a.d. 741-752)- 
" Thou hast found men wandering about, more numerous than the- 
Catholic priests, and not ordained by Catholic bishops. False- 
vagabonds are they, adulterers, murderers, effeminate, sacrilegious 
hypocrites, tonsured slaves who have fled from their masters. They 
meet with their abettors in conventicles, and exercise their ministry 
in strange places, such as the cellars of country-houses where their 
stupid folly may be concealed from the bishops." The pope's im- 
putation of immoral conduct must be taken for what it is worth ; 
the fact is established, on the best authority, that there existed in 
the eighth century in the heart of Europe, numerous teachers and 
congregations of Christians who were independent of the See ol 
Home, and protested against its errors. 

But the malpractices and superstitions of Borne were sometimes 
too glaring for the honest English heart of Boniface. He fearlessly 
rebuked Pope Zacharias for allowing money to be demanded as tha 
price of an archbishop's pall. In a letter to the same pope he- 
complains of the bad example set at Borne to simple pilgrims from 
Germany; of the heathenish practices allowed there on the first of 
January; and of the public sale of amulets, which the women 
bought to hang round their arms. " When," he says, " the people 
return and report that such things are done under the very eyes of 
thy Holiness, my Christian instructions are not a little hindered of 
their effect." 

As his age increased, the sphere of Boniface's authority and 
influence widened. He was appointed archbishop of Mentz, and it 
was by his hand that Pepin the Little was anointed king. But his 
indefatigable labours were now drawing to their close. Committing 
his administrative work to younger men, he set out in the beginning 
of the year 755 on a mission to Friesland, the scene of his early 
ministry, under the firm persuasion that he should never return. 
In the book-chest which he took with him wherever he went, he 
carried his shroud, desiring that after his death his body might be 
conveyed to the great monastery of Fulda, in Hesse, which he had 
founded. With a small retinue of clergy, monks and servants, 
some fifty in all, he embarked in a boat on the Bhine, and descended 
towards the Zuyder Zee. The little band traversed the country, 
founded churches, and baptized thousands of converts. It was the 
fourth of June ; they had planted their tents on the banks of a 
small stream near Dokkum, in the north of Friesland. During 
the day a large number of new converts had been in attendance, 


and were to return on the morrow to receive the rite of con- 

Early the next morning Boniface heard at a distance the sound 
of an approaching multitude, and full of joy came from his tent to 
meet them. But he soon found out his mistake. The clash of 
weapons announced other than a friendly purpose. In fact the 
pagan priests, maddened by the success of Boniface and his coad- 
jutors, had devoted the very day appointed for public admission 
into the Church, to vengeance on behalf of their gods. They seem 
also to have been lured by the gold and silver vessels which they 
supposed Boniface to carry about with him. On their approach the 
younger Christians drew swords to defend their bishop, but he 
checked the ineffectual resistance. Taking the relics in his hands, 
and exhorting his attendants not to fear those who were able only 
to kill the body, but to confide in their Lord who would soon 
bestow upon them the reward of everlasting glory, he calmly 
awaited the issue. He had not long to wait. Laying his head 
upon a volume of the gospels, he received the fatal blow : most of 
his followers perished with him. He was in his seventy-fifth year. 
According to his desire his body was carried up the Bhine, and 
buried in the monastery of Fulda. 1 

Boniface was followed by Willehad, a Northumbrian, who 
preached in Friesland and North Germany, commencing in the 
district where his predecessor was slain. With him the stream of 
missionaries from Ireland and England to the continent seems to 
have come to an end. 

In receiving the German converts into the Church, the formula 
made use of was very simple. It is to be observed that this bap- 
tismal vow, written down by the priest and responded to by the 
catechumen, takes us back to the infancy of the German language. 
German literature may be said to have commenced with the founda- 
tion of the Church by Boniface. The art of writing cannot, out- 
side the Roman pale, be traced back much if at all earlier than the 
eighth century, and for a long time the clergy were its only posses- 
sors. The earliest known transcript of the vow is preserved in the 
cathedral of Merseburg in the Prussian province of Saxony, and 
was written in the eighth century. The following is a fac-simile 
of it : 

1 Boniface is distinguished from other missionaries of his age, in that not a 
single miracle is recorded of him. A modern historian says of him : " No 
missionary has been more eminent in labours since the Apostle Paul." 


Ati<3Lutt'j-ax 1chfiijT" ; '' j-xctaxxbu^ 

Interrogatio Sacerdotis. 

Forsahhistu unholdun ? Ih farsahu. 
Gilaubistu in Got Fater Almahtigan ? Ih gilaubu. 
Gilaubistu in Christ Gotes Sun Nerienton ? Ih gilaubu. 
Gilaubistu in Heiligangeist ? Ih gilaub. 

The priest asks. 

Dost thou forsake the devil ? I forsake. 

Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty ? I believe. 

Dost thou believe in Christ the Son of God, the Saviour ? I believe. 

Dost thou believe in the Holy Spirit ? I believe. 


The Mohammedan Conquest. 

The subversion of the Eastern Church by Mohammed and his suc- 
cessors should afford, one would suppose, ample material for the 
Church historian to record. On the contrary, this chapter in his- 
tory is one of the briefest and most barren. Within a short space 
of years Syria, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt abjured the 
cross and prostrated themselves before the crescent. In her early 
days, when the Church was poor, despised, and few in number, she 
successfully resisted the whole weight and power of the Eoman 
Empire ; now that she had become wealthy and dominant, she had 
not inward strength to withstand the first onset of a false religion. 
Some resistance, it is true, was offered to the invaders, but it was 
with the sword, not with the Spirit ; the annals of those years are 
barren of acts of faith. Where were the prophets boldly pro- 
claiming the divine judgments, the apologists, the scholarly 


athletes wrestling with error, the confessors, the martyrs ? The 
Eastern Churches were like costly garments in some tropical 
country, into which the white ants have found their way ; to the 
eye they are beautiful and perfect as when they were fashioned, but 
at the first rude touch they crumble to dust. 

It may be argued that the two cases were different. Roman 
paganism sought wholly to stamp out Christianity ; Mohamme- 
danism, which, it must be confessed, shot some rays of truth into 
the dark places of the earth, respected and even reverenced the 
religion of Christ. This reverence however was in profession rather 
than in reality. The ancient Church would never have consented, 
no Church in which the Spirit of Christ dwelt could have consented, 
to the treacherous compact by which the Eastern Christians in the 
seventh century purchased immunity from the Moslems. 

There is no need to dwell upon the causes which produced this 
deplorable collapse ; they have given their distinctive features to the 
foregoing pages, as well as to the volume to which the present work 
is a sequel. 1 " What Mohammed and his caliphs found," writes 
Isaac Taylor, " in all directions whither their scimitars cut a path 
for them, was a superstition so abject, an idolatry so gross and 
shameless, Church doctrines so arrogant, Church practices so disso- 
lute and so puerile, that the strong-minded Arabians felt themselves 
inspirited anew as God's messengers to reprove the errors of the 
world, and authorized as God's avengers to punish apostate 
Christendom. The son of the bond-woman was let loose from his 
deserts, to 'mock' and to chastise the son of the free-woman." 2 
The eloquent apologist for Monachism thus describes the part 
played by monks and clergy in the cowardly surrender of the for- 
tress at the first summons of the enemy. "After an age of un- 
paralleled virtue and truthfulness, after having presented to the 
monastic life of all ages, not only immortal models, but also a kind 
of ideal almost unattainable, the monastic order allowed itself to 
be overcome, through all the Byzantine Empire, by that enfeeble- 
ment and sterility of which Oriental Christianity has been the 
victim. . . . The monks of the East sank gradually into nothing- 
ness. Intoxicated by the double influence of courtierism and theo- 
logical discord, they yielded to all the deleterious impulses of that 

1 Another cause is to be found in the cruel persecution of the Paulicians. 
See below, Chap. VI. 

2 Of the seventh century Mosheim writes: "In this barbarous age religion 
lay expiring under a motley and enormous heap of superstitious inventions, and 
had neither the courage nor the force to raise her head or display her natural 
charms to a darkened and deluded world." 


declining society, of whose decay despotism was at once the result 
and the chastisement. . . . They could neither renovate the society 
which surrounded them, nor take possession of the pagan nations 
which snatched away every day some new fragment of the empire. 
They knew no better how to preserve the Church from the evil in- 
fluences of the Byzantine spirit. Even the deposit of ancient 
knowledge escaped from their debilitated hands. They have saved 
nothing, regenerated nothing, elevated nothing. They ended, like 
all the clergy of the East, by becoming slaves of Islamism and 
accomplices of schism." 

Mohammed was born about a.d. 570 ; and his flight from Mecca 
to Medina, which forms the era of the Moslems under the name of 
the Hegira, took place in 622. Before his death in 632, he had 
subdued all Arabia and had commenced the reduction of Syria. 
His successors prosecuted the conquests thus begun. In 637 
Jerusalem was taken ; two years later the subjugation of Syria was 
completed, and that of Egypt in 641. Persia followed and North 
Africa ; and in 711 the victorious Arabs, known in Europe under 
the name of the Moors whom they had conquered, crossed over into 
Spain, and subjugated that country in about two years. Thence 
they overran France as far as the Loire, when the great victory of 
Charles Martel in 732 effectually checked their progress in Western 

Mohammed was not ignorant of the Bible, and he borrowed from 
it both in theology and morality. 1 But the truth of which he thus 
possessed himself was inextricably mixed with errors and absurdi- 
ties ; and the Koran, notwithstanding the respect with which its 
author speaks of Christ, contains no trace of the doctrine of Be- 
demption. 2 He proclaimed it as his mission to carry through the 
earth the knowledge of the one God and of himself as his prophet, 
and he waged relentless war against idolatry, " Believe or die,'* 
was the sole alternative offered to the pagan. Towards the Jews 

1 " His acquaintance, however, both with the Old and New Testament was 
small, fragmentary and inaccurate, not derived from the Scriptures themselves, 
but from Talmudic legends and apocryphal gospels, and, as we may confidently 
affirm, not drawn at first hand even from these." 

2 Some missionaries in 1831 visited in the prison at Cape Town a Hottentot 
under sentence of death. He was a Mohammedan convert, and was attended by 
the Moslem teacher. The missionaries requested him the next time the priest 
came, to ask if the Mohammedan religion afforded any means of relieving the 
conscience from the burden of sin ? At their next interview they inquired what 
answer the teacher had given. " He confessed," said the Hottentot, " that no 
provision exists for such a need ; on which I told him that I renounced a reli- 
gion which afforded no ray of hope for the anguish of a wounded conscience." 


and Christians, " the people of the Book," as he styled them, he 
assumed a different attitude ; they were not required to embrace 
the faith of Islam, but were suffered, under certain conditions in- 
cluding the payment of tribute, to worship in their own way. 
Nevertheless the oppression to which they were subjected, and the 
bribes which were held out to converts, drew multitudes over to the 
new religion. Whole populations of Christians at once embraced 
the faith of the conquerors ; and the sacred land of Israel and the 
birth-place and original home of Christianity have ever since been 
trampled under foot by the followers of the false Prophet. 


The Paulicians. 1 

From the time when Jerome so successfully quenched the sparks of 
light struck by Jovinian and Vigilantius, we meet with no attempt 
to reform the Church for more than two hundred years. Her 
slumber, which grew ever more profound, was not disturbed until 
the seventh century, when a religious awakening took place in the 

The birthplace of the Paulician movement was Armenia, and the 
root from which it sprang is thought to have been the remnant 
of the Marcionites, that sect of Gnostics which may be described as 
the most spiritual, as it was the most enduring. 2 As in the case of 
"Vigilantius and Jovinian, no information has come down to us 
respecting this sect except from adverse sources. 

The origin of the Church is traced to the following circumstance. 
In the middle of the seventh century there resided at the village of 
Mananalis, not far from Samosata, a man named Constantine, who 
gave hospitable entertainment to a certain deacon returning from 
-captivity, probably among the Saracens. The grateful deacon pre- 
sented his host with a manuscript containing the Gospels and 
Paul's Epistles, neither of which, as it would appear, he had ever 
seen before. Constantine applied himself earnestly to the study of 
these sacred books, especially of the Epistles, which made a deep 
impression upon him, and gave an entirely new direction to his 

1 So named, it is supposed, from the Apostle Paul, whose writings they espe- 
cially valued. 

2 See Early Church History, p. 57. 


thoughts and to his life. Unhappily his mind was preoccupied 
with the Oriental dualistic ideas familiar in the Gnostic systems, 
which represented the creation of the world as the work of a spirit 
atenmity with the perfect God ; and when he read in the New 
Testament of the opposition of darkness to light, flesh to spirit, 
and the world to God, he seems to have mixed this pure Christian 
teaching with the alloy which he had derived from the Marcionites. 
None the less however did Constantine believe himself called to 
stand forth as an apostolical reformer. He laboured with great 
assiduity in his work of reformation twenty- seven years, and made 
many converts, both from the Church and from the followers of the 
Persian sage Zoroaster. The progress of the new society naturally 
provoked persecution ; Constantine was stoned, and a large number 
of his disciples were burned alive. During the next generation the 
sect was rent by schism, and at the same time the advancing sword 
of the Saracen conquerors obliged many to leave their native 
country and to seek a new home in Asia Minor. Here they were 
in danger of extinction, when a new leader arose and led them 
back to the path of service and suffering. 

This was a young man named Sergius, a native of a village in 
Galatia, who had been brought up in the Catholic Church. He was 
one day addressed by a Paulician woman in the following manner : 
" I hear, sir, that thou excellest in science and erudition, and art a 
man of high moral character ; tell me then, why dost thou not read 
the sacred Gospels?" "Because," answered Sergius, "it is not 
lawful for us of the laity to read those books, but only for the 
priests." The woman replied, "It is not as thou supposest, for 
there is no respect of persons with God. He willeth all men 
to come to the knowledge of the truth. But your priests corrupt 
the word of God, and would conceal the mysteries which are con- 
tained in the Gospels, and this is the reason why detached portions 
only of Scripture are read in the churches." She then asked him 
of whom it was that our Lord spoke (Matt. vii. 22, 23), who had 
prophesied in his name and wrought miracles, but whom He would 
nevertheless refuse to own ; or who were the sons of the kingdom 
of whom our Lord says that they should be thrust out of it (Matt. 
viii. 12). " They are those," said she, " whom you call saints, of 
whom you say that they work miraculous cures, and expel evil 
spirits, those whom you honour, whilst you neglect to honour the 
living God." These words sank deep into the heart of Sergius. 
Like his predecessor Constantine, he commenced at once to study 
Paul's Epistles ; and was not slow to perceive the wide difference 
which existed between the teaching of the Apostle and the effete 


forms of the State religion. At the same time, like Constantine, he 
seems to have suffered his theology to be marred by the Gnostic 

For thirty four years 1 Sergius preached and taught with inde- 
fatigable zeal, traversing every province of Asia Minor. "I have," 
he said, " run from east to west and from north to south, till my 
knees were weary, preaching the Gospel of Christ." Like the 
Apostle he supported himself by his own hands, following the trade 
of a carpenter. His strict morality and gentle manners extorted 
commendation even from his enemies, although they pretended to 
regard these virtues as so many marks of hypocrisy. In his teach- 
ing it was his custom to present first the practical requirements of 
Christianity, and afterwards, when he had gained the ear of his 
audience, to inveigh against the dominant Church. Many of the 
laity were attracted by his preaching, and even monks, nuns and 
priests became his willing auditors. An involuntary testimony to 
his character, as well as to the extent of his influence, is borne by 
the Catholic historian. He styles him, "the most mighty champion 
of the devil, a fierce wolf in a sheepskin who has changed many 
from sheep into wolves ; a deceitful pretender to virtue, who, under 
this disguite, has beguiled many, and who has trodden under foot 
the Son of God [the mass] and counted the blood of the covenant 
an unholy thing." Sergius indeed, if his words have been faithfully 
reported, became intoxicated with his own success. In one of his 
letters to his flock are these words : "I am the porter and the 
Good Shepherd, and the leader of the body of Christ, and the light 
f the house of God. I am with you always, even unto the end of 
the world ; for though I may be absent in the body, yet I am with 
you in the Spirit." 

At first the missionary labours of Sergius fell within a favourable 
period. There was in the Greek Church at this time a small 
handful of ecclesiastics who considered it unchristian to coerce 
heretics with the sword, declaring that priests, whose duty it is to 
lead men to repentance, ought not to be partakers in the shedding 
of blood. Influenced by these enlightened men, or impatient of 
the domination of the bishops, the Emperor Nicephorus 2 refused to 
be the tool of the hierarchy in the persecution of dissenters. So 
long as he lived therefore the Paulicians enjoyed tranquillity. But 
when Michael I. 8 succeeded to the throne the conditions were 
changed. At the instance of the Patriarch of Constantinople it was 
determined to compel all heretics to return to the Catholic Church. 

i a.d. 801835. s a.d. 802811. a.d. 811813. 


The milder of the clergy remonstrated. Theodore, abbot of the 
monastery of Studium in Constantinople, 1 although a zealous 
defender of the Church-faith, and even a fanatical supporter of 
image-worship, honourably distinguished himself on this occasion. 
Writing to the bishop of Ephesus, who had declared that to put 
Manichaeans to death was " a glorious work," he asks : " How sayest 
thou ? Our Lord commanded that the tares and the wheat should 
grow together until the harvest; how then canst thou call the 
j-ooting up of the tares a ' glorious work? ' " He quotes Chrysos- 
tom on the same Scripture passage : " This the Lord spoke, fore- 
seeing that wars would be waged and blood shed and slaughter 
perpetrated. We are not to kill heretics, else would war rage for 
ever in the earth. And if ye begin to use the sword and slay 
heretics, many saints also will inevitably be destroyed with them." 
"Which thing," adds Theodore, "has already happened in our 
time. Neither ought we to pray against the teachers of error but 
for them, as our Lord prayed on the Cross for those who knew not 
what they did." 

But a few individual voices availed nothing against the dominant 
spirit. Iconoclasts and image-worshippers alike concurred in 
persecuting the heretical sects. Leo the Armenian, 2 successor to 
Michael, although hostile to image- worship, sent a bishop and an 
abbot to coerce the Paulicians into conformity. In the discharge 
of their commission these inquisitors acted at Cynoschora with such 
severity that the inhabitants rose up and slew them. To escape 
the Imperial vengeance, the insurgents fled to that part of Armenia 
which had received the faith of Islam, where they were received 
with open arms. They soon fell into a lawless manner of life, and 
joined the Saracens in their incursions into the Imperial provinces. 
Against these excesses Sergius set his face, but his remonstrances 
were unheeded. After governing the community in their new 
location for several years, whilst he was one day at work in the 
mountain alone, felling timber for his trade, he was attacked by a 
Catholic zealot who wrested his axe from his hand and cleft him in 
twain, a.d. 835. 

For a few years the Paulicians enjoyed some repose ; but on the 
re-establishment of image-worship under the regency of Theodora 
in 842, the work of extermination was resumed. All endeavours 
to win them back to the Church, either by arguments or threats, 
being unsuccessful, the sword was once more unsheathed against 

1 And thence called Studites. 
2 a.d. 813820. 


them. The slaughter was terrible in the extreme, rivalling that of 
the Albigenses and Waldenses at a later period. It is said that no 
fewer than 100,000 persons were put to death. 

Meanwhile, in the eighth century, a numerous body of this 
people had been transported into Thrace and Bulgaria by the 
Emperor Constantine Copronymus ; whither also, about the year 
970, another and still larger migration from Armenia took place by 
direction of the Emperor John Zimisces. They were chosen on 
account of their valour to guard the Balkan frontier of the Greek 
Empire, and were planted near Philippopolis. 

The Paulicians were by no means free from errors. If we may 
trust the evidence which has come down to us, they rejected the 
Old Testament, with the Epistles of Peter and some other portions 
of the New. Many may be ready to doubt the claim of such hetero- 
dox professors to be true "Witnesses for Christ, and justly indeed in 
the later stages of their history, when they became a military power. 
But with all their errors and faults, they wrought a good work in 
the midst of a corrupt Church, leading a godly life, and on many 
most important doctrines pointing men back to the first principles 
of the Gospel. Thus they maintained that the multiplication of 
external rites had imperilled the true life of religion. They con- 
tended against dependence on the magical effect of the Sacraments, 
the use of which indeed they entirely discarded. It was, they 
declared, by no means Christ's intention to institute water- baptism 
as a perpetual ordinance ; by baptism He meant the cleansing work 
of the Holy Spirit. So too, they held that eating the flesh and 
drinking the blood of Christ consists in coming into vital union 
with Him through his word. They despised the wood of the cross,, 
then an object of universal adoration, and protested against the 
worship of the Virgin Mary. Although their doctrines fostered the 
practice of strict morality no trace is to be found of the ascetic 
spirit ; on the contrary, they treated the Church fasts with con- 
tempt. Learning from the New Testament that all believers are- 
one in Christ, they rejected the distinction of clergy and laity, audi 
protested against the assumption of the Jewish priesthood by the* 
Christian minister. They had amongst them rulers and Church 
officers, but these were not distinguished by dress or badge, any 
more than by a supposed peculiar holiness. 

Out of the Paulicians and a kindred sect called the Euchites r 
arose the Bogomiles, 1 in whom, as in the former, a clearer insight 
into spiritual truth than that of the Church around them was 

1 Slavonic : Bog, God ; z'milui, have mercy. 


marred by visionary fancies, even so far as to deny that Christ had 
a real body. The sect was widely spread through the Greek 
Empire. A venerated monk, Constantine Chrysomalos, who by 
his writings contributed to the diffusion of their doctrines, was con- 
demned at a synod held at Constantinople in 1140. He taught 
that "all singing and prayer, all participation in the outward rites 
of the Church, and study of the Scriptures, is vain unless accom- 
panied by that inward change by which man is delivered from the 
power of evil." Contemporary with him was Niphon, also a monk, 
who by his pious and strict life won universal reverence. He was 
ignorant of classical learning, but familiar with the Holy Scriptures, 
and he maintained correspondence with many bishops, especially in 
Cappadocia. This man was condemned by the Patriarch Michael 
to perpetual confinement in a monastery ; but Michael's successor 
Cosmas, a man of singular piety and benevolence, restored him to 
liberty and made him his table companion. As Cosmas refused to 
abandon Niphon after the latter had been condemned by a synod, 
sentence of deposition was passed upon himself, upon which he re- 
torted that it was "the Church which was corrupt, and that he him- 
self was like Lot in the midst of Sodom." 

The Bogomile doctrines spread from Thrace and Bulgaria to the 
Sclavonian country of Bosnia, which thus in the twelfth century 
became the seat of a numerous Protestant Church. The pope, who 
at this very time was attempting to extinguish in Western Europe 
the light which two centuries before had been kindled by the Pauli- 
cian missionaries, extended his powerful arm towards the East to 
bring back the Bosnians to the Catholic faith. He succeeded for a 
while in recovering the Ban or sovereign, who was also the head of 
the sect, but a few years afterwards, 1199, that prince fell again 
into heresy, and his dominions became the asylum for the persecuted 
Albigenses, 1207 1218. 1 As soon however as the work of extir- 
pation in Languedoc and Provence, begun by Pope Innocent III., 
was completed, his successors again endeavoured to strangle the 
reformed religion in the Bosnian mountains. The brother of the 
King of Hungary was the De Montfort of this new crusade, and in 
1236 invaded Bosnia with a large army. Similar inroads were 
repeated for more than two centuries ; the country was laid waste, 
cities were sacked, heretics burned, butchered, and cast into dun- 
geons. But the faith of the Bogomiles was exceedingly tenacious 
of life ; and in the fifteenth century we find them still as numerous 
as ever, and making common cause with the followers of John 

1 See below, Part iv. chap. 7. 


Huss. In 1459 the Ban Stephen, a Catholic, made a last attempt 
to root out his dissenting subjects, and it is said drove away 40,000 
of them into the Herzegovina. The expulsion however of this 
large number did little to diminish the strength of the party at 
home, and in 1463, the Turkish conquest of the Balkan cut short 
all such arbitrary proceedings, and once for all delivered the 
oppressed people from their Christian tyrants. They refused to 
strike a blow for their sovereign, and even hastened to surrender to 
the infidels their towns and fortresses. 1 


Witnesses from the Eighth to the Tenth Century. 

It is a matter for devout thanksgiving to the Divine Head of the 
Church that during the darkest period of its history a succession of 
true Witnesses was always found, by whom either the life of 
Christianity was preserved or the much needed work of reformation 

One of the most illustrious of these was our countryman Alcuin.* 
He was born of a noble Northumbrian family, in the same year in 
which Venerable Bede finished his course, a.d. 735, and was 
brought up from infancy in the school at York. His master was 
Ethelbert, afterwards archbishop of York. The course of instruc- 
tion embraced a fair knowledge of the Latin poets and of the Greek 
Fathers, with as much Hebrew as could be learnt from the study 
of Jerome. The library contained books in all these three lan- 
guages, and included the works of Aristotle and Cicero. Alcuin 
succeeded Ethelbert as head of the school, which reached its 
highest reputation under his direction, many youths from distant 
places resorting thither. 

Charles the Great (Charlemagne) was then the chief patron of 
learning in Europe. The ignorance this monarch perceived in the 

1 The intelligent traveller from whom we have derived this information dis- 
covered, in the mountain gorges, many singular sepulchres. They bore upon 
them various devices, but very seldom the figure of the cross ; the Bosnians of 
the present day call them the tombs of the Bogomiles. 

2 See ante, p. 293, where we have already spoken of Alcuin's part in carrying 
the learning of Jarrow and York to the Continent of Europe. 


abbots and bishops caused him to issue a circular letter, exhorting 
them to the diligent pursuit of literary studies that they might 
better understand the mysteries of holy writ. For the promotion 
of the same object he founded his celebrated Palatine School. 1 

Alcuin several times visited France and Italy, and was on two 
occasions presented to Charles, who in 781 urged him to join his 
court and assist him in his educational work. Accordingly he 
removed to France about 782, and was endowed by Charles with 
the revenues of two monasteries. Here, besides directing the Pala- 
tine School and organising others on the same model, he employed 
himself in writing and revising books for educational and ecclesi- 
astical purposes, and in correcting the Vulgate translation of the 
Bible, which, through the negligence and ignorance of transcribers, 
had become in many places unintelligible. On the occasion of 
Charles's coronation as Emperor at Eome, a.d. 800, Alcuin sent 
him a copy of this great work. 

Charles himself did not disdain to become Alcuin's pupil, and 
calls him his "most beloved teacher in Christ." He frequently 
sought his help in difficult passages of Scripture, and when absent 
kept up a familiar correspondence with him, in which Alcuin was 
accustomed to express his opinions with great freedom. The King's 
studies embraced the chief sciences of the age. " He spent," says 
Eginhardt, " much time with Alcuin, the most learned man of the 
day, in acquiring rhetoric and logic, and especially astronomy. He 
learned from him the art of computation, and with profound 
thought and skill calculated the courses of the planets." 2 The 
other savants of the court often joined the King and Alcuin in their 
studies : the royal daughters were also admitted. 

In 790 Alcuin returned to Northumbria, but after two years we 
find him again on the Continent, where in the disputations which 
arose with certain heretics, he appeared on the orthodox side. The 
abbacy of St. Martin at Tours becoming vacant in 796, Charles 
sent him thither to restore its decayed discipline, and to institute a 

1 Schola Palatina, school of the palace. Aix-la-Chapelle, and Ingelheim 
near Bingen, were the Emperor's chief residences. The school probably followed 
the court. 

2 The king delighted in the works of Augustine, especially his City of God. 
For want of early practice, he himself could never succeed in learning to write ; 
although he kept his tablets and writing-book under the pillows of his couch, it 
was all to no purpose, those rigid fingers so long accustomed to grasp the sword 
could not bend themselves to the pen. D. Ceillier, however, thinks that Egin- 
hardt in this passage meant only that Charles tried in vain to imitate the 
beautiful characters of the manuscripts in his library. 


school. He died there a.d. 804, and was buried within the church 
of St. Martin. 

Alcuin was deeply impressed with the importance of the preaching 
of the Gospel and of Bible-study ; and was accustomed to press 
upon the bishops the necessity for the latter as a preparation for 
the former. " Without the holy Scriptures," he wrote to the clergy 
of Canterbury, " it is impossible to come to the right knowledge of 
God ; and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch." But 
he was far from restricting the study of the word to ecclesiastics,, 
and desired that the Emperor should have diligent searchers of 
Scripture among his ministers of state. He was opposed to the 
taking of human life even by the authority of the magistrate. His 
name is associated with the stand made by the Gallic clergy in this 
age against image-worship. After the Iconoclastic strife in the 
East had raged for three-quarters of a century, the Second Council 
of Nicaea, a.d. 787, by its ninth canon solemnly established the 
worship of images. But in 794, when a great number of bishops 1 
from all parts of Charles's dominions assembled in council at Frank- 
fort, this canon was rejected by a large majority. This bold step 
is thought to have been due in no little degree to the influence of 
Alcuin, supported by his Imperial master. To the English scholar 
some writers attribute also the famous edicts issued by authority of 
the Emperor, and known as the Capitularies and the Caroline Books,. 
in which, although images and pictures in churches were still re- 
tained as ornaments, and to keep alive the memory of pious men 
and pious deeds, all kinds of adoration, even reverence for them, is 
condemned. 2 

1 Said to have numbered about 300. 
2 The opposition of the Gallic clergy to image-worship dates from an earlier 
period than that of Charles the Great. In the seventh century Serenus, bishop 
of Marseilles, observing that the worship of images was spreading amongst the 
rude Franks of his diocese, caused the statues and pictures of the saints to be 
cast out of the churches. Pope Gregory the Great, whilst professing to com- 
mend his motives, censured the rashness with which he had acted, advancing 
the very unsafe plea that images are especially useful for newly-converted 
people. Nothing can be weaker than the language of the pope's rebuke. 
" Where," he asks, " is the bishop who ever did the like ? If nothing else could 
hinder thee, ought thou not to have refrained from the very singularity of the 
the act ? Ought thou not to have been afraid of making people believe that 
thou thought thyself the only wise person in the world ? " When the Icono- 
clastic Emperor Leo the Isaurian was endeavouring by main force to purge the 
Eastern churches of their pictures, Pope Gregory II. wrote to him : " Only try 
thy experiment here. Go into the schools where the children are learning to 
read and write, and tell them thou art the opponent of images ; they would in- 
stantly throw their tablets at thy head, and thus the ignorant will teach thee 
perforce what thou wilt not learn from the wise." 


Claude of Turin. But the most strenuous of the Frankish 
opponents of image-worship flourished under Charles's successor. 
This was Claude bishop of Turin, who may justly be styled the 
Protestant of his age. He forms a connecting link between Jovi- 
nian and Vigilantius in the fourth and fifth centuries and those 
evangelical Churches which sprang up in France and Italy in the 
eleventh and twelfth. 

Claude was a native of Spain, and like Alcuin joined that band 
of learned men from various countries which adorned the court of 
Charlemagne. He was appointed by the Emperor's son Louis, 
surnamed the Pious, who was then keeping his court in Auvergne, 
to be his domestic chaplain. Claude was a diligent student of 
the New Testament, and like Leo the Isaurian in the East, was 
probably anxious to vindicate Christianity from the reproach of 
idolatry cast on it by the Mohammedans. Louis himself despised 
image- worship, and when he came to the throne he sent Claude 
to fill the episcopal chair of Turin (circa 822) for the express pur- 
pose of giving a check to the idolism to which the Italians had 
abandoned themselves. 

With too eager haste Claude began to declaim against the pre- 
vailing superstition, and to order all the statues and pictures of the 
saints, the crosses and votive offerings, to be flung out of the 
churches. The prejudices of the people were violently shocked, 
and their discontent manifested itself in popular tumults. " I 
found," he writes, " the churches full of the lumber of consecrated 
gifts, and because I alone began pulling down what all adored, I 
was calumniated by all. Unless the Lord had helped me I had 
been swallowed up alive." He owed his safety to the fear of the 
Frankish arms ; which fear also seems to have restrained the pope, 
Paschal I., from taking overt action against him. Of this pope he 
said : " He only is apostolic who is the keeper of the Apostle's 
doctrine, not he who boasts of being seated in the Apostle's chair 
and yet does not keep the Apostle's charge ; for the Lord says : 
The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.' " 

Claude had a friend, Theodemir, an abbot, who used to ply him 
with theological questions, and was thus the occasion of his writing 
several of his treatises. All the while, however, Theodemir seems 
to have been playing a double part, his real object being to convict 
Claude of heresy. On the publication of the bishop's commentary 
on the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, he brought charges of un- 
sound doctrine against him, before an assemblage of bishops and 
nobles. Hearing of this ungenerous proceeding Claude wrote to 
him : " May the Lord who is the witness of my life, and who gave 


me this work to do, forgive thee." Theodemir was unable to sub- 
stantiate the charges, and changing his mode of attack assailed the 
bishop with his pen. In his reply, Claude declared that he held 
firmly to the unity of the Church, but that he would always with 
'God's help fight against superstition and error. " If those who 
say they have cast off idolatry, worship the images of the saints, 
then they have not forsaken their idols but only changed their 
names. If men are to be worshipped, it would be mnch better to 
worship the living than the dead. If the works of God's hands, 
the stars of heaven for example, ought not to be worshipped, much 
less ought the work of men's hands. Whoever seeks from any 
creature in heaven or on earth the salvation which he should seek 
from God alone, is an idolater." He sternly rebuked the adoration 
of the Cross. ** What these men do is quite a different thing from 
what God has commanded. God has commanded us to bear the 
Cross, not to adore it ; they are for adoring it because they are un- 
willing to bear it." With equal boldness he contended against 
pilgrimages : " Foolish men, undervaluing spiritual instruction, go 
to Eome to attain everlasting life. One gets no nearer to St. Peter 
by finding oneself on the spot where his body was buried, for the 
soul is the real man." Claude's free opinions gave great offence in 
high quarters, and the Emperor was persuaded to commission Jonas 
bishop of Orleans to write a refutation of his errors. But this was 
not published until after Claude's death. 1 

It is not only as a destroyer of images and a caster-out of crosses 
that the name of Claude of Turin is inscribed upon the Church's 
record. He had largely imbibed the spirit of Paul's Epistles, to 
the study of which he especially gave himself, as well as to the 
writings of Augustine ; and in all his Scripture Commentaries, he 
makes practical Christianity his great aim, With him " heavenly 
grace is the source of true sanctification ; the state of the heart, the 
test of moral worth ; love to God apart from all reference to reward , 

1 The Gallic clergy of that day were equally in unison with Claude on the 
question of pilgrimages, as they were on that of images. The Second Council 
of Chalons, in 813, declared : A pilgrimage to Rome or to St. Martin of Tours is 
accounted a panacea. By it careless ecclesiastics imagine themselves cleansed 
from sin, and qualified to perform their office ; laymen suppose they may sin 
with impunity ; nobles, that they may practise extortion on their dependents ; 
whilst beggars find in it a crutch for their mendicancy. Men are so foolish as 
to suppose that their sins are purged by the mere sight of a holy place, un- 
mindful of the words of St. Jerome, that it is no merit to have seen Jerusalem, 
but to have lived a godly life there. See ante, p. 50, note. 


the essence of the Christian temper ; worship of God in the spirit, 
the characteristic of true piety." x 

The truth which Claude preached, commended as it was by his- 
exemplary life, attracted many followers, so that Theodemir com- 
plains of him as having founded a new sect which had spread from 
Italy through France even into Spain. 2 We do not, it is true, meet 
with any society which bore his name, nor even with the traces of 
any association for the purpose of maintaining his doctrines, but 
whenever in succeeding ages God's messengers declared the simple 
Gospel truth in the countries where Claude's influence had been 
exerted, there was a remarkable readiness to receive it ; and it is 
well known that the Waldensian Church, which came into note in 
the twelfth century, claimed Claude of Turin for its spiritual 

Another enlightened Witness, contemporary with Claude, was 
Agobard, archbishop of Lyons from about 810 to 840 a.d. He 
wrote a tract against image-worship, in which he says : " If Heze- 
kiah broke the brazen serpent, made by God's express command, 
because the mistaken multitude began to worship it (for which act 
his piety was highly commended), much more now ought the images 
of the saints, which were never set up by God's command but are 
absolutely human inventions, to be broken and ground to powder." 3 
Many bishops of Aquitaine and Narbonne supported Agobard, but 
the light which thus shone over Southern France was only transient. 
Under Charles the Great's successors civil and religious order de- 
clined, and men's consciences were for a time held in fetters even 
stronger than before by an ignorant and worldly clergy. 

Anschab, styled the Apostle of the North, was born near Amiens 
in 801. From the works of Christian love of this remarkable man,, 
and the revelations with which he was favoured, we see how the 
Spirit of Christ condescended to dwell with his children, even in 
the darkest days of the Church. Influenced by a pious mother, 
until his fifth year, Anschar seems to have received religious im- 
pressions in his opening mind when a very young child. During 
his school-days evil communications dimmed these early revelations. 
They were not effaced however, and he was recalled to thoughtful- 

1 Claude's teaching reminds us of Vigilantius, and it is worthy of note that 
Jonas accuses Claude of maintaining the heresy of that early reformer. 
2 Jonas states that Germany was also infected. 

Strange to say, Agobard's name is to be found in the Eomish Hagiography- 
(lives of the saints), whilst his Treatise on Pictures is placed in the Index Expur- 
gatorius (catalogue of writings prohibited by the Church) ! 


ness by a night vision. He imagined himself to be standing in a 
slippery place, thick with mire, from which he was unable to extri- 
cate himself. Not far off, on a safe and pleasant path, he beheld a 
graceful woman handsomely attired, accompanied by several others 
in white garments, one of whom was his own mother. He would 
gladly have gone over to them, but the slippery ground held his 
feet. As they drew nearer he heard the richly-adorned lady, who 
appeared to be the Virgin Mary, say to him, " My son, wilt thou 
come to thy mother ?" And when he answered that he would fain 
do so if he could, she replied : " If thou wishest to join us, thou 
must eschew vanity and diligently pursue a serious life." From 
this time a change came over him ; instead of play he gave himself 
to reading and meditation. 

In the convent of Corbie near Amiens, whither he was sent when 
still a youth, he had another vision in which the glory of Heaven 
was revealed to him. He was transported to the assembly of the 
blessed, and their united hymn of praise filled his soul with in- 
expressible delight. All had their faces turned towards the east, 
where was a splendour of surpassing brilliancy and giving forth the 
most beautiful colours. " The splendour was so illimitable," says 
Anschar, "that I could see neither beginning nor end ; and although 
I looked round on all sides I could perceive only the superficial ap- 
pearance, I could not see that which dwelt within the centre of this 
light. Yet I believe He was there whom the angels desire to look 
upon ; for from thence proceeded a flood of glory which shed its 
effulgence over the whole assembly. He was in all, and all were in 
Him. He satisfied all their wants, and was their guiding soul ; He 
hovered over them, and was their support from beneath." Peter 
and John, who appeared as Anschar's guides, led him right in face 
of this boundless light, whence a voice came forth full of unutterable 
sweetness : " Go hence, and return to Me with a crown of martyr- 
dom." At these words the adoring host became silent, and with 
bowed and reverent faces worshipped. " When I heard the words," 
continues Anschar, " I was sad because I was obliged to go back to 
the world, but was comforted with the promise that I should return 
from it hereafter." 

Two years afterwards he had a third vision. He had been 
engaged in prayer in a small chapel to which he was wont to retire, 
and when he rose, there entered at the door a person of noble 
countenance clad in Jewish garb, whose eyes shone like the light. 
He perceived that it was the Lord Jesus Christ, and fell at his feet. 
As he lay prostrate he heard a voice bidding him stand up ; and 
-when in trembling awe he stood before the Lord, and was not able 


to look upon His countenance for the brightness of the light which 
beamed from His eyes, he heard the same voice, full of tenderness, 
saying to him : " Confess thy sins that thou mayest be justified." 
Anschar answered : " Lord, why need I tell them to Thee ? Thou 
knowest all, nothing is hid from Thee." The Lord replied: " I 
indeed know all things, but yet it is my will that men should con- 
fess their sins to Me that they may receive forgiveness." Upon 
this he knelt and made confession, and the Lord said : " Fear not, 
I am He who blotteth out thy trangressions." With these words 
the Saviour vanished, and Anschar went his way full of joy and 
confidence. At another time, on receiving again the same assur- 
ance of forgiveness, he inquired, " Lord, what wouldst Thou have 
me to do ?" The answer came : " Go preach the Word of God to 
the tribes of the heathen." 

At the head of the seminary of Corbie was the learned Paschasius 
Radbert, and Anschar, his most industrious pupil, was promoted to 
be his assistant. In 822 a colony of monks from this abbey settled 
on a fertile spot in the valley of the Weser, and gave the name of 
their parent cloister (in German) Corvey to the new house, which 
became one of the chief monasteries beyond the Rhine. Anschar 
was one of the colonists. The Jutland king Harald, who had just 
been baptized at Ingelheim, being about to return home, the Em- 
peror Louis the Pious proposed he should be accompanied by a 
gospel preacher. Wala the abbot of Corvey recommended Anschar 
for this mission, and when the Emperor asked the young man if he 
was willing for God's glory to accompany King Harald, he replied 
that he was not only willing but eager to go. Many tried to dis- 
hearten him by representing the savage character of the Northmen 
and the evil nature of their idolatry, but he adhered steadfastly to 
his purpose, and retiring alone to a vineyard prepared himself by 
reading the Scriptures and prayer for the great undertaking. 

For upwards of forty years Anschar laboured incessantly in Den- 
mark, Sweden and the north of Germany, enduring disappointment, 
distress, hardship and persecution, through which nothing but an 
unshaken trust in God could have supported him. Once when an 
army of Northmen sacked and burned the town where he was, 
together with his church and monastery, leaving him barely time 
to save the church vessels, he exclaimed, as he surveyed the deso- 
late scene : " The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, 
blessed be the name of the Lord." His love of meditation and 
prayer led him to construct a cell, which he called his "place of 
quiet and penitence," and to which, with a few companions who 
were like-minded, he from time to time withdrew. But he never 


suffered this to interfere with his apostolic duties, only resorting to 
his retreat to renew his spiritual life after long and arduous toil. 
He was in the habit of disciplining himself by severe mortifications, 
but conscious how easily self-exaltation is engendered by such out- 
ward austerities, he prayed to God for grace to save him from this 
danger. Too humble to aspire after miraculous gifts, he neverthe- 
less could not prevent the coming of sick persons from distant 
parts, who hoped to be restored by his prayers. When however 
such a hope was expressed he would say : " Could I deem myself 
worthy to ask miracles of the Lord, I would beseech Him to grant 
me this one miracle, that He would make of me a holy man." 

Being attacked with his mortal sickness Anschar's only regret 
was that the hope inspired by his early dream, that he should die a 
martyr's death, was not to be fulfilled. He often said his bodily 
pains were less than his sins deserved, repeating the words of Job, 
" Have we received good from the hand of the Lord, and shall we 
not receive evil ?" Travail of spirit for the souls of those who were 
about him, and especially for the conversion of the Danes and 
Swedes, occupied him to the end. Having received the bread and 
wine, he prayed that God would forgive all who had done him 
wrong, frequently also repeating the words, "Have mercy upon me, 
God, according to Thy loving-kindness : be merciful to me, a 
sinner ; into Thy hands I commend my spirit"; and so, with his 
eyes uplifted, he died, as he had wished, on the anniversary of the 
Purification of the Virgin, a.d. 865. 

After Anschar's death it was still only by slow degrees and with 
frequent repulses that Christianity made its way in Denmark. 
Gorm the Old, who died about the year 935, clung to his ancestral 
heathenism and persecuted the Christian missionaries, whilst his 
wife Thyra, a beautiful and virtuous lady, had become a Christian, 
and with her husband's permission maintained her own chapel 
and priests. Their son, Harald II., surnamed Blaatand (Blue- 
tooth), professed the faith of his mother, and removed his court 
from Ledra, the ancient seat of the worship of Odin, to Boskilde in 
Zealand, where he erected a cathedral. He continued however to 
make the old palace at Jellinge, near Veile in Jutland, his usual 
place of residence. 

Here he buried Gorm and Thyra, and piled over their tombs two 
huge circular barrows, which still remain. Gorm's mound is about 
40 ft. high and 670 ft. round at the base. 1 Thyra's is rather 

1 It is not an exact circle, the two diameters being about 204 and 224 feet 



smaller, and covers a rude wooden chamber 22 ft. long, 8 ft. broad,, 
and 5 ft. high. As there is no chamber under the large barrow, it 
is probable that both bodies were buried beneath the smaller. Both 
mounds have been opened. Thyra's chamber contained, amongst 

Thyra's Cross and Cup. 

other relics, a silver cup lined with gold, about 2 inches high ; a 
small bronze cross thinly coated with gold ; two figures of birds in 
copper ; a small piece of fine red silk ; and an end of wax candle. 
In the other mound very little was discovered. 

Between the graves stands a church, not so old as the mounds^ 
but yet very ancient ; and near the church are two blocks of reddish 


granite. 1 The larger of these is three-sided, about 7 ft. 6 in. in 
height and 20 ft. round at the base. On one side is carved the 
dragon, the pagan emblem of Scandinavia ; on another a figure of 
Christ, with the arms extended, as on the Cross ; and on the third 
side, which is the largest, is an inscription in Eunic characters, 
continued also in the lower part of the other two. 


1 Both the blocks have been removed from their original site. 


In Roman characters it reads thus : 

Haraltr kunukr bad gaurva 
kubl dausi aft Gurm fadur sin 
auk aft Thourvi mudur sina sa 
Haraltr jas sor van Tanmaurk 

ala auk Nurviak 

auk T ( . n ) kristno. 

Xing Harald had these memorials made of Gorm his father and Thyra his 
mother ; the same Harald who won for himself all Denmark and Norway, and 
(made the Danish people ?) Christians. 

The smaller stone is 6 ft. 3 in. in height ; it hears a short but 
significant inscription. 

Gurmur Kunugr gardi kubl dusi aft Thurvi kunu sina Tanmarkar but. 
King Gorm made this memorial of Thyra his wife, Denmark's ornament. 1 

The place of these monuments is now far from the highways of 
men, and full of repose. "From the blue fiord, on whose shore 
the little town of Veile spreads itself, we ascended," says a recent 
traveller, " some 200 or 300 ft. through picturesque woods to a 
table-land; passing broad fields of corn ready for the sickle, and 
quaint farm-houses and barns, the very image of the toys we played 
with in our childhood. There are few hedges, and between the 
corn patches are long ribands of grass, where the cattle feed 
tethered to stakes, and tended by a boy. On a ridge to the right, 
before entering the hamlet of Jellinge, were seen five large barrows. 

1 Or Saviour, or trust ; the word is doubtful. The above woodcuts are taken 
from a model of the stone presented to the writer by Walter Morris, with the 
help of the lithographs in Professor Kornerup's valuable and elaborate work, 
Kongehphiene i Jellinge, Copenhagen, 1875, for a copy of which we are indebted 
to the kindness of the author. The particulars in the text are also derived from 
this work. The similarity between the Irish school of ornament and the figures 
on the Eunic monuments is very noticeable : compare the above woodcuts with 
the fragment of sculpture from Monkwearmouth church and the square of lace- 
work ornament from the Durham Book, ante, p. 278. 


Here in this corner of the earth now so tranquil, in the rude palace 
long since decayed, the old sea-kings a thousand years ago hung up 
their weapons, glutted themselves with flesh and cups of mead, 
roared out their idol- songs to Odin, and recounted their deeds of 
plunder and merciless slaughter, with which, from century to cen- 
tury, they made the shores of England, Normandy, France and 
Sicily to groan and tremble." 1 

Nilus. We turn again to the South of Europe. Nilus was a 
monk of Greek origin, and a native of Eossana in Calabria (South 
Italy), where he was born in 910. a He did not stand forth as a 
reformer ; he did not see that the dense growth of superstition 
which encumbered the Church must be cut down and cleared away 
before the good seed could have room to take root and grow. 
Nevertheless his eye being single, his soul was full of light ; and if 
those who saw his course of life and heard his words of evangelical 
wisdom had been willing to follow him, the light of gospel truth 
might have broken forth in Southern Italy even in that dark age. 

Although the founder of several monasteries, he did not place 
his dependence on monastic austerities or spiritual marvels. In 
consonance with the superstitious temper of the age, the thought 
would often occur to him, whilst engaged in prayer or in singing, 
"Look towards the altar; perhaps thou wilt see an angel, or a 
flame of fire, or the Holy One Himself, for such sights many others 
have seen." But being inwardly admonished that thoughts like 
these grow out of spiritual pride, he would resolutely shut his eyes 
and give himself up the more to penitential exercise, wrestling with 
his soul till the sweat trickled from his forehead. Once when he 
was occupied with writing, reading and singing in St. Peter's at 
Eome, he was beset with these temptations. Throwing himself 
before the altar he prayed, " Lord, thou knowest that I am weak; 
have compassion on me and relieve me of this conflict." Thus 
lying he fell asleep, and saw a vision. He beheld Christ hanging 
on the cross, separated from him only by a thin white curtain. He 
cried out, " Lord have mercy upon me, and bless thy servant." 
The Saviour from the cross extended his right hand three times 
over him. He awoke, and the temptation was gone. The disciple 
who gives this account adds : " What much fasting and watching 
could not effect, was effected by thus humbling himself before the 
Lord, and by a knowledge of his own weakness." 

1 Private diary of a journey in Denmark, July, 1882. 
2 He is called Nilus the Younger to distinguish him from the venerable monk- 
of the same name who resided on Mount Sinai in the fifth century. 


Like Anschar, he was of a humble spirit. Being asked by a 
father to heal his son, a demoniac, he excused himself, saying he 
had never prayed for the gifts of healing the sick or casting out 
demons ; what he had asked was that God would grant him the 
forgiveness of his sins and deliverance from wicked thoughts. He 
endeavoured however to comfort the father, by representing to him 
that the involuntary possession in the case of his son by one evil 
spirit, was a far lighter affliction than the readiness to serve them 
all which is manifested in a wicked life. 

Some nobles and ecclesiastics came one day to prove Nilus with 
hard questions. When he saw them he said within himself : "They 
.are come to entangle me in empty talk. Lord Jesus, free us from 
the devices of Satan, and grant that we may think and speak and 
do what is well pleasing to Thee." When he had so prayed he 
opened at hazard the book he had in his hand, a biography of a 
pious monk, and made a mark in the place ; and as soon as his 
visitors had saluted him and sat down, he gave the book to one, who 
was a privy-councillor, to read where he had marked. The privy- 

.councillor read: "Scarcely one in ten thousand attains to sal- 
vation." All exclaimed with one voice: "God forbid! whoever 
says that is a heretic. If it be so, we have all been baptized in 
vain ; in vain we adore the Cross ; in vain we partake of the 
Eucharist; in vain we call ourselves Christians." Whereupon 
Nilus quietly remarked : " Suppose I should prove to you that 
Basil, Chrysostom, Theodore Studites, the Apostle Paul, and the 

Gospel, all declare the same thing, what would you say, you who by 
your own wicked lives gainsay the words of holy men ? I tell you 
that by all these observances you gain nothing in the sight of God. 
Unless you become truly virtuous not one of you can be saved." At 
this all sighed and exclaimed, " Woe to us, miserable sinners ! " 
Nicolas, an officer of the Imperial guard, who trusted in his alms- 
giving, now spoke: "Yet Christ said, ' He who gives to a poor man 
but a cup of cold water shall not lose his reward.' " To which 
Nilus replied : " That was spoken to the poor, that none might offer 
as an excuse his having no wood wherewith to prepare warm water. 
But what wilt thou do who robs the poor even of the cup of cold 
water ? " Next a nobleman, a man of immoral life, referred to the 
example of Solomon, "a wonderful man and greatly commended in 
the Bible ; was he not saved ? " " What concern of ours is it," 
replied Nilus, " whether Solomon was saved or lost ? Not to him 
but to us it is said ' every one that looketh on a woman to lust after 
.her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.' But 
of Solomon we do not read as we do of Manasseh, that after having 


sinned he repented." Here one of the priests impertinently struck 
in with the question, "What was the forbidden fruit in Paradise ?" 
" A crab apple," answered Nilus. And when all laughed, he added : 
" Such a question deserved such an answer." 

The Imperial chamberlain, coming in state to a neighbouring 
castle, was offended that Nilus did not present himself before him 
with the other abbots. But when he heard of Nilus' independent 
character, he was still more desirous to see him. As soon as he 
entered the room the chamberlain was struck with awe at his pre- 
sence, and sent for a copy of the Gospels, in order that if any 
matter of importance should pass between tbem, it might be ratified 
by oath. But Nilus reproved him, reminding him of what Christ, 
said of swearing in His sermon on the mount. " Why," he asked, 
"dost thou furnish an occasion to mistrust thy words; and why 
dost thou begin our conference by transgressing tbe word of the 
Lord? He wbo is ready on slight occasions to take an oath, will 
also be ready to utter a falsehood." 

Nilus' countryman John, archbishop of Placenza, a man of a 
restless worldly spirit, became entangled in an alliance with the 
Boman usurper Crescentius, who after expelling Gregory V. set up 
.Tobn as pope in his place. 1 Nilus wrote to him, prophetically 
warning him of the consequences of his ambition, and calling upon 
him to renounce the honours he had so unworthily gained, and to 
retire from the world. His words found no entrance; but within a- 
year the doom which Nilus had foreseen fell upon the unhappy 
man. Gregory was restored to his chair by the arms of the 
German Emperor Otho III., and a cruel revenge was wreaked on 
the archbishop. His eyes were put out, and his tongue and his 
nose cut off, and in this deplorable condition he was thrown into a 
dungeon. Nilus was in his monastery at Gaeta when he received 
the tidings of John's fall and the barbarity practised upon him. 
Although now upwards of eighty years of age, sick and infirm (it 
being besides Lent, when he gave himself to penitential devotions), 
he forgot all in his sympathy with the sufferer, and quitting his cell 
travelled immediately to Borne. Presenting himself before the 
Emperor, he asked to be put into the same dungeon with the arch- 
bishop, that they might do penance together for their sins. The 
Emperor promised to comply ; but presently, instead of this, the 
archbishop was exposed to new and more public ignominy. Upon 
this Nilus boldly told both pope and Emperor that their offence was 

1 His name is commonly omitted in the tables of the popes; when introduced 
he is called John XVI. 


not so much against the wretched man as against God ; and that as 
they had broken their word and shown no mercy, so they themselves 
could expect no mercy from God. The youthful Emperor was 
touched, and invited Nilus to ask any favour he pleased. " I have 
nothing to ask of thee," was the Christian reply, "but that thou 
wilt not trifle with the salvation of thy own soul. Emperor though 
thou art, thou must die like other men, and appear before the 
judgment-seat of God, to render an account of all thy deeds, good 
and bad." The Emperor burst into tears, and taking the crown 
from his head, begged the man of God to give him his blessing. 

In order to do Nilus honour, the monks of the venerable abbey 
of Monte Casino, the mother of all the Benedictine houses, invited 
him to celebrate mass in their church in the Greek tongue. At 
first he refused, saying: " How shall we (Greeks), who are every- 
where humbled on account of our sins, sing the Lord's song in a 
strange land ? " Afterwards however he consented, and sang a 
hymn composed by himself in praise of St. Benedict. When the 
hymn was ended, the conversation turned on the diversity between 
the Greek and Latin Churches as to fasting on the Jewish Sabbath. 1 
Nilus gave his opinion in the words of Paul : " ' Let not him that 
eateth, set at nought him that eateth not ; and let not him that 
eateth not, judge him that eateth, for God hath received him.' 
Whether we eat, or ye fast, let all be done to the glory of God." He 
then adduced the older Church teachers, who favoured the Greek 
custom ; but added : " We will not however contend about this; if 
the Jews did but honour Christ crucified as their Lord, I should 
take no offence, even though they fasted on Sunday. . . . Every- 
thing depends on the state of mind in which a thing is done. We 
do right not to fast on the Sabbath, in opposition to the Mani- 
chseans, who reject the Old Testament ; and ije, from your point of 
view, are bound to fast on that day, in order to purify your souls 
for the celebration of the day following, consecrated to our Lord's 

Nilus being near his end, the governor of Gaeta proposed that 
when he died, his body should be brought into the city for burial, 
so that his sacred bones might serve as a protection to the town. 
His humility was shocked at the prospect of receiving such venera- 
tion ; and he determined that the people of Gaeta should not know 
where he was buried. Accordingly he mounted his horse and took 
his way towards Kome, saying to his monks as he bade them fare- 
well : " Sorrow not : I go to prepare a place and a monastery, where 

1 See Early Church History, p. 95. 


all my brethren and scattered children will meet me again." On 
arriving at Tusculum, 1 he rode into the small convent of St. Agatha, 
saying: " Here is my final resting-place." His friends in Eome 
invited him to continue his journey to the city, that he might per- 
form his devotions at the tombs of Peter and Paul ; but he answered : 
"He who has faith as a grain of mustard-seed may even in this spot 
honour the memory of the Apostles." He begged the monks that 
when he died they would not delay his burial, and that they would 
not lay his body in a church nor erect any monument over him ; 
but if they wished to distinguish his grave, they should raise over 
it a seat for wayfaring men, such as he had always been, to rest 
themselves upon. For two days before he died he lay with no other 
sign of life than a murmur of his lips, and a slight motion of his 
hands making the sign of the cross. One of the monks putting his 
ear to his mouth, heard the words : " Then shall I not be ashamed 
when I have respect to all thy commandments." He fell asleep, 
without a struggle, a.d. 1005. 

The hymn which follows is by Joseph Studites who, in the ninth 
century, lived many years at the court of Constantinople. It 
approaches more nearly to modern hymns of Christian experience 
than perhaps any other which has come down to us. 


Safe home, safe home in port ! 

Eent cordage, shattered deck, 

Torn sails, provisions short, 

And only not a wreck ; 
But oh ! the joy upon the shore 
To tell our voyage perils o'er ! 

The prize, the prize secure ! 

The athlete nearly fell ; 

Bare all he could endure, 

And bare not always well : 
But he may smile at troubles gone 
Who sets the victor-garland on ! 

No more the foe can harm : 

No more of leaguered camp, 

And cry of night-alarm, 

And need of ready lamp : 
And yet how nearly he had failed, 
How nearly had that foe prevailed ! 

1 Near the modern Frascati, ten miles S.E. of Borne. 


The lamb is in the fold 

In perfect safety penned : 

The lion once had hold 

And thought to make an end : 
But One came by with wounded side, 
And for the sheep the Shepherd died. 

The exile is at Home ! 

nights and days of tears, 

longings not to roam, 

sins and doubts and fears, 
What matter now (whate'er men say) 
The King has wiped those tears away ! 

happy, happy Bride ! 

Thy widowed hours are past ; 

The Bridegroom at thy side ; 

Thou all his own at last ! 
The sorrows of thy former cup 
In full fruition swallowed up 



( 333 ) 


Monastic Life in the Middle Ages. Cluny. 

" My rule 
Is left a profitless stain upon the leaves ; 
The walls, for abbey reared, turned into dens ; 
The cowls, to sacks choked up with musty meal. 

Mortal flesh 

Is grown so dainty, good beginnings last not 
From the oak's birth unto the acorn's setting." 

Benedict, in Dante. 

In the foregoing pages, the reader cannot fail to have remarked how 
the lofty, though mistaken, object of Benedict was, as time went 
on, more and more lost sight of, and the separation from the world 
at which he aimed swallowed up in the vortex of civil and political 
life. In name and dress, in the unnatural and corrupting abnega- 
tion of marriage, and in the daily round of ceremonies often unpro- 
fitable, not to say idolatrous, the monk lived apart ; but in all 
beside, not only in the petty affairs of his own township, but also in 
the government, in diplomacy, and even in the wars of principalities 
and empires, he was foremost both as adviser and actor. Instead 
of the cloister excluding the world, the world had taken possession 
of the cloister. " Most monks," remarks Mosheim, " did not even 
know that the rule they had bound themselves to follow was called 
the rule of St. Benedict." The time for reformation was fully 
come ; but, unhappily, the reformation took place on the old un- 
natural lines. "Catholic efforts of revival all took, with more or 
less rigidity, the monastic form, and their successive failure is due 
to the inherent weakness of monasticism. It sets before men an 
unnatural and impossible ideal. It substitutes for the social and 
domestic virtues upon which the world rests, an ascetic and self- 
regarding type of holiness. It is the attempt 

' to wind ourselves too high for sinful men beneath the sky,' 

and so is peculiarly exposed to reaction, laxity, corruption. The 
story of all monastic orders, truly told, is one of perpetual striving 
after a holiness which hungers and thirsts after self-denial, and finds 
no self-maceration too hard ; then of slow falling-away into for- 
mality, idleness, self-indulgence, open vice : and a period once more 
of enthusiastic reform, and repentant return to the old ideal." 


Early in the tenth century a successful attempt to restore the 
monastic discipline was made at Cluny, in Burgundy. This 
monastery was founded in 908 by the abbot JBerno, to whom 
William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, gave the village of Cluny 
with the neighbouring lands. Upon Odo, the second abbot, the 
mantle of Benedict may be said to have fallen. He not only 
revived the strict rule of the latter, but added fresh observances and 
regulations, and through his influence the old austerity of the 
monastic life reasserted its sway throughout Europe. Odo had 
been a schoolmaster and precentor of the cathedral at Tours, and 
came of a good stock. He says of his father : "He seemed to be a 
different sort of person from men of the present day ; for he had by 
heart the histories of the ancients and the Novella 1 of Justinian. 
At his table there was always the reading of the Gospel." Odo 
himself, when he became a monk, possessed a library of a hundred 

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries successive popes rivalled 
each other in showering privileges upon Cluny. Calixtus II., 
having nothing further to bestow, took his own ring from his finger 
and placed it on that of the abbot, declaring that for the future the 
abbot of Cluny should be ex officio a Boman cardinal, and that the 
Cluniacs should have the priviledge of continuing to celebrate mass, 
if ever the kingdom should be placed under an Interdict. The 
monastery besides coined money like a sovereign State, and Louis 
VI. styled it " the noblest member of his kingdom." 

In 1122 Peter of Montvoissier was chosen abbot. "When I was 
raised to the office," he wrote, " I found a large monastery, religious 
and famous, but with a very insufficient revenue ; 300 monks or 
more, and provision for only one hundred, crowds of guests, and 
always an infinite number of poor." 2 Peter was a man of a wise 
and charitable spirit. 8 To a recluse he wrote : " Thy outward 
separation from the world will avail thee nothing without the only 
firm bulwark against besetting sins within the soul the Saviour. 
By union with Him and by following Him in his sufferings, thou 
wilt be safe against the attacks of all thy enemies." And to a 
prior: " Of what avail is all the fasting in the world to him who 
has no love ? Abstain if thou wilt from flesh and from fish ; torture 
thy body, give no sleep to thy eyes ; spend the night in vigils and 

1 This was the title of the latest portion of the great body of law compiled 
in the reign of Justinian. 

2 Seventeen thousand poor were annually relieved at the gates. 

3 Like Chrysostom and Augustine, and many other great men in the Church, 
he had enjoyed the inestimable blessing of a pious mother. 


the day in toil ; still willing or unwilling thou must hear the 
Apostle : And if I give my body to be burned but have not charity 
it profiteth me nothing.' " Monk though he was, he had no sym- 
pathy with that immolation of the natural affections which was 
required by the rules of Basil and of Benedict. " The good man," 
he says, writing to a monk, " ought not to fly from his kinsmen and 
friends for fear of contamination ; he should seek to win them by 
wholesome admonitions. Instead of being afraid of their earthly 
affections, he should communicate to them his own heavenly love. 
It is," he adds, "in the recesses of the heart alone that the true 
despiser of the world finds the true solitude, where no stranger 
enters, where without audible utterance is heard the gentle voice of 
the Master discoursing with us." To one of a kindred mind with 
himself he says : " When I would search with thee into the mys- 
teries of Scripture, thou wast always ready to join me with the 
greatest delight. When I would converse with thee on worldly 
science (always under the guidance of divine grace), I found in thee 
a ready mind and an acute discernment. 0, how often, with the 
doors shut, and Him alone for our witness who is never absent 
when discourse turns upon Himself, have we held solemn converse, 
on the hardness of man's heart, the entanglements of sin, the mani- 
fold snares of wicked spirits, the economy of salvation by the incar- 
nation and sufferings of the Son of God, the dreadful day of the 
last judgment." His charity became almost proverbial. He de- 
clined to express an opinion regarding a deceased heretic, lest he 
should bring a false accusation against a dead man. 

Hence it is not to be wondered at that Peter, whilst he laboured 
for the restoration of good manners and a holy life, made no effort 
to restore the severe rule of Benedict. This was reserved for the 
founders of two new religious houses which were just then coming 
into note, Citeaux and Clairvaux. Between the great Bernard, 
who rendered both these monasteries illustrious, and whose history 
is presently to be related, and Peter, there existed indeed a close 
and life-long friendship ; but it was scarcely possible that the in- 
dulgence of relaxed discipline on the one side, and the determination 
to return to primitive austerity on the other, should not sooner or 
later bring them into collision. 

An occasion of difference between the convents of Cluny and 
Clairvaux had arisen before Peter became abbot. Bernard, who 
quitted Citeaux for Clairvaux in 1115, took with him a young kins- 
man, noble and wealthy, named Robert, for whom he had a pater- 
nal affection. The young man however soon grew restless under 
the severe and unrelenting discipline to which he was subjected, 


and availed himself of the first opportunity to leave. His parents- 
in his childhood had promised him to Cluny, and the ahbot Pontius 
was unwilling to lose so valuable a possession. Hearing probably 
tbat Eobert sighed for deliverance, he sent his prior to bring him 
away. In spite of his own vow and of Bernard's remonstrances 
the youth left Clairvaux, and accompanied the prior to Cluny. The 
matter was considered so important as to be referred to the pope, 
who affirmed the claim of the elder monastery. In the hope of 
moving him to a voluntary return, Bernard wrote Robert a letter 
of four folio pages, full of alternate wrath and tenderness. He now 
reproves the youth as a prodigal, gone away to indulge in riotous 
living, and now chides himself for the harsh enforcement of austeri- 
ties, too severe for a lad brought up in the softness of secular life. 
The prior who had enticed Robert away comes in for a large share 
of Bernard's wrath. Bernard's entreaties were in vain so long as 
Pontius ruled ; but when Peter succeeded to the abbacy he gratified 
his friend by sending back the young kinsman, who expiated his 
six years of truant indulgence by more than sixty of submission to 
the Cistercian rule. 

At length the dissension between the two abbeys, which for some 
years had been smouldering, burst forth into a flame. The Cluniacs 
spoke of the Cistercians as upstart Pharisees, whilst these denounced 
the former as apostates.. In 1125 Bernard, urged by the abbot of 
St. Thierry, seized the pen, and in a long and eloquent letter which 
he called his Apology, enumerated the abuses which had crept into 
the monastic life. 1 They dispense (he says) with the year's novi- 
tiate, and receive back renegades as often as they choose to come. 
They have discontinued the regular fasts, retaining only a shadow 
of them, and this more from shame towards man than from the 
fear of God. They have come to despise manual labour ; neither 
the authority of Scripture nor their vow being able to withdraw 
from their bosom the hands become delicate through idleness. The 
pious practices of pouring water on the hands of the guests, washing 
their feet and the like, have disappeared. They possess parish 
churches, receive first-fruits and tithes, and claim for their own, 
towns, villages, peasants, tolls and taxes. And when such unlaw- 
ful revenues are challenged they defend them at law, so that monks 
are seen conducting causes, and thus in heart turning back to 
Egypt and Sodom. 

Bernard then proceeds to the personal life of the brethren, upon 

1 He does not confine his censure to Cluny, but extends it to the rich and 
luxurious monasteries in general. 


which theme his words are vehement. " I am astonished to see 
among monks such intemperance in eating, in drinking, in clothes, 
in bed-covering, in horse-trappings, in buildings. ... At meals no 
man asks his neighbour for the heavenly bread ; there is no con- 
versation concerning the Scriptures, none concerning the salvation 
of souls ; but small talk, laughter, and idle words fill the air. And 
while the ear is tickled with gossip and news, the palate is stimu- 
lated by dainties ; dish after dish is set on table, and to make up 
for the small privation of meat a double supply of fish is provided. 
"Who can say, to speak of nothing else, in how many forms eggs are 
cooked ? The dishes are even made to charm the eye as well as the 
taste ; and although the stomach complains that it is full, curiosity 
is still excited. As for wine, directly we become monks we seem to 
be afflicted with weak stomachs, and set ourselves in a praiseworthy 
manner to follow the weighty advice of the apostle and take a little 
wine ; but for some unexplained reason the qualification of a little 
is disregarded. You may see a cup half full carried three or four 
times backwards and forwards, in order that out of several wines 
smelled and sipped the most potent may be selected. Have we not 
heard that in some monasteries on great festivals the wines are 
mixed with honey and powdered with spices ? Is this too for our 
stomach's sake and our often infirmities ? . . . I have heard that 
strong hearty young men are accustomed to place themselves in 
the infirmary for the purpose of regaling on those viands which the 
rule allows only to the utterly debilitated. In order to distinguish 
these invalid monks they carry a stick in their hands, a most neces- 
sary token ! " 

Next as to clothing and style of living. " This habit of ours, 
formerly a sign of humility, is by the monks of our day turned into 
an occasion of pride. The knight's cloak and the monk's cowl are 
cut from the same piece of cloth. When you want to buy a cowl, 
you rush through the towns, visit the markets and fairs, dive into 
the merchants' houses, turn over their goods, undo their bundles, 
feel the cloth with your fingers, hold it to your eyes or to the sun, 
and if anything coarse or faded appears you reject it. . . . What 
kind of humility is it in an abbot to take his progress with a retinue 
of hairy men ? I have seen one with sixty horses in his train. 
You would think them to be not fathers of monasteries but lords of 
castles, not shepherds of souls but princes of provinces. Then 
there is the baggage, table-cloths, cups and basins, candlesticks, 
ornaments of the beds. My lord abbot cannot go more than four 
leagues from home without taking all his furniture with him, as if 
he were bound for the wars or had to traverse a desert. Is it quite 



impossible to wash one's hands in and drink from the same vessel ? 
Will your candle burn nowhere but in that golden or silver candle- 
stick of yours ? Is sleep impossible except upon a variegated mat- 
tress or under a foreign coverlet ? Could not the same servant 
harness the mule, wait at dinner, and make the bed ? If such a 
multitude of men and horses is necessary, why not carry with us 
our provisions, and thus relieve from an intolerable imposition 
those who entertain us ?" 

Bernard has something to say of the grand and decorated 
churches of which that of Cluny was one of the most magnificent. 1 
On this subject he manifests a degree of enlightenment beyond his 
age, regarding art much in the same aspect as that presented in a 
previous chapter, namely, as a hindrance to true worship. 2 He 
censures the vast height of the roof, the inordinate length and 
superfluous width of the building, costly polishing and strange 
designs which, by attracting the eyes of the worshipper, hinder the 
soul's devotion ; these things, he says, remind him of the old Jewish 
ritual. " By the sight of such costly vanities men are prompted to 
make gifts to the church rather than to pray there. The beautiful 
picture of some saint is exhibited the brighter the colours, the 
greater the sanctity and men run to kiss it. The chandeliers 
hanging from the roof, and the tall trees of brass in the place of 
candlesticks, fashioned with wonderful skill, are all studied with 
precious stones, glittering almost as bright as the lights themselves. 
What do you suppose is the object of all this ? The repentance of 
the contrite, or the admiration of the beholders ? vanity of 
vanities ! The church's walls are resplendent, but the poor are not 
there. The curious find wherewith to amuse themselves, but the 
wretched find no consolation in their misery. . . . Again, in the 
cloisters, what is the meaning of those ridiculous monsters, of that 
deformed beauty, that beautiful deformity, before the very eyes of 
the brethren as they read ? What are unclean monkeys there for, 
or ferocious lions, or monstrous centaurs, or soldiers or huntsmen ? 
Such an endless variety of forms appears everywhere, that it is 
more pleasant to read in the stone-work than in books, to spend 
the day in admiring these oddities than in meditating on the Divine 
law. For God's sake, if we are not ashamed of these absurdities, 
why at least do we not grieve at the cost of them ?" 

1 This church, which at the time of Bernard's Apology had been thirty-five 
years in building, was finished in 1130. It was the wonder of Christendom. It 
was 580 feet long and 120 wide, was supported by sixty-eight massive columns, 
and lighted by 300 windows. 

2 Ante, p. 227. 


To all these charges Peter makes but a feeble defence. His case 
is perhaps strongest on the possession of the lands and villages 
which had been lavishly conferred by former lords upon the abbey. 
Land in the hands of the monks was generally better administered 
than by lay owners. Secular masters too often imposed hard ser- 
vice upon their serfs and treated them as mere chattels, whilst the 
rule of the monks was light and considerate; they regarded the 
peasants, not as slaves, but as brothers, and maintained them when 
they fell into sickness and indigence. On the question of labour 
Peter makes a very lame defence. "How," he piteously asks, 
" are a languid set of men, barely kept alive on their vegetable diet, 
to bear labour in the field, exposed to heat, rain and cold, which 
peasants and ploughmen find it hard to endure ? This is not only 
impossible, but it would be indecent. Does it not appear most in- 
decent that monks, who are to abide in the cloister and devote 
themselves intensely to silence, prayer, reading and meditation, 
should put aside these things for vulgar rustic labour." 

But Peter and Bernard knew one another's worth ; their souls 
were made for mutual sympathy ; and after this temporary ruffle 
their correspondence was continued in the most brotherly spirit. 
Their epistles abound in playful and affectionate sallies, and are a 
fine specimen of medieval letter-writing. We must find space for 
a few sentences. Peter writes to Bernard : " I am thankful to be 
so excellently well placed, being as thou art pleased to write, an 
actual inmate of thyself, so that if I should become cold I shall un- 
doubtedly soon grow warm again, thus cherished by thy heart of 
charity. . . . The messenger coming to Cluny, and not finding me, 
neither brought on nor forwarded thy letter, but left it there. At 
length I got it from the sub-prior, to whom it had been entrusted. 
Immediately my soul was drawn out, so drawn out that I did what 
I never remember to have done, except in reverence to the Holy 
Scriptures ; as soon as I had read thy letter, I kissed it. And that 
I might excite a greater love for thee, I read it over again to those 
around me." 

Bernard to Peter : " I wish I could send thee my mind just as I 
send thee this letter. Thou wouldst, I am sure, read most clearly 
what the finger of God has written on my heart, has impressed on 
my marrow, of love to thee. ... I say this because my Nicholas 1 
(aye, and thine too), being vastly moved in spirit himself, has 
moved me, affirming that he saw a letter from me addressed to 
thee, which contained some unkind expressions. Believe one who 

1 His secretary. 


loves thee, that there neither rose in my heart nor issued from my 
lips anything which could offend the ears of thy blessedness. The 
fault is owing to the multitude of business ; so that my scribes do 
not well remember what I tell them. They sharpen their style too 
much, and it is out of my power to look over what I have ordered 
to be written." Again : " I saw thy letter, and flew to shut myself 
up with that Nicholas whom thy soul loveth. I read over and over 
again the sweetness that flowed from it. I grieved that I was not 
able to answer according to my feelings, because the evil of the day 
called me away. For a vast multitude, out of almost every nation 
under heaven, had assembled. It was my place to answer every 
one ; because for my sins I was born into the world that I might be 
confounded with many and multifarious anxieties." 

Both Bernard and Peter reposed confidence in this secretary, 
Nicholas, who was a very active servant, wrote pious letters, and 
was " brimful of sacred and philosophical learning." He belonged 
originally to Cluny and it was Peter's desire to have him again. 
" When thy holiness was at Cluny," so writes Peter, " thou asked, 
What dost thou want with Nicholas ? ' I answered, ' It is no great 
matter.' But I confess to thee, dearest friend, they were the words 
of wounded feeling rather than of truth. I had one thing in my 
heart and another on my tongue. What my mind tacitly suggested 
was, ' Why repeat thy wishes so often ; as thou hast been denied 
thy request twice before, thou mayest perhaps now be denied a 
third time.' Let my confession -avail me for what ? That thou 
shouldst send Nicholas, and not only now, but whenever I shall ask 
for him." 

The truth is, however, that Nicholas was unworthy the con- 
fidence of either. Writing some time afterwards to pope Eugenius 
III., Bernard says : " We have been in peril from false brethren, 
and many forged letters under counterfeits of our seals have gone 
forth. Thus compelled, I have laid aside that seal, and use the 
new one which thou seest, containing both a figure of me and my 
name." And later: "That Nicholas has gone forth from us, be- 
cause he was not of us ; and he has gone out, too, leaving very 
dirty footmarks behind. I had seen through the man a long time, 
but I waited in the expectation that either God would convert him, 
or that like Judas he would betray himself; and this has happened. 
Besides books and specie in gold and silver, there were found upon 
him three seals his own, the prior's, and one of mine, and that 
not the old but the new one, which I had been forced by his tricks 
and rogueries to alter. Who can say to how many persons he 

bernabd's seal. 341 

has written just what he pleased, in my name, without my know- 

We give one more short paragraph from Peter's correspondence, 
being part of a letter written to his own notary, who was devoting 

Bernard's Seal ; size of the original. The Seal is of brass, and represents Ber- 
nard in his monkish dress, with shaven hair and chin, seated on a folding chair, 
the arms of which terminate in a serpent's head. In one hand he holds a 
crozier ; in the other, what has been taken for a book or a church-door. The 
incription is : |J< Sigillum : Bernakdi : Abbatis : Clarevall. The absence 
of the letter S (Sancti) before Bebnardi is a strong proof of genuineness ; 
Bernard was canonized a few years after his death. 

himself to the study of the classics. Ever since the time of Ter- 
tullian and Clement of Alexandria, the use of classic literature had 
been a subject of contention in the Church. Peter ranged himself 
on the prohibitory side ; but although his sentence and counsel 
cannot be endorsed, the Christ-like spirit which inspired his pen is 
a worthy example for every student. " Truth, looking from heaven, 
and compassionating the misery of mortals, and taking the likeness 
of sinful flesh, cries : ' Come unto Me all ye tbat labour and are 
heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.' . . . See now, without the 
study of Plato, or the subtleties of Aristotle, the place and the way 
of happiness are discovered. Let man quit the teacher's chair, for 
the God-man sits down to teach, and says : ' Blessed are the poor 
in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Why dost thou seek 
through thousands of words and multiplied labours what thou 
mayest obtain in plain language and with little labour ? Why dost 
thou recite with the comedians, lament with the tragedians, deceive 
with the poets, and be deceived with the philosophers ? " 

After the death of Peter the Venerable, Cluny lost its lustre. It 
continued to be learned, wealthy and powerful, but its spiritual 
lamp was dimmed. The Cluniacs excelled in the arts of calli- 
graphy and illumination, and from the twelfth century, owing to 


their labours and those of the Cistercian and Carthusian com- 
munities, there was a vast increase in the number of books. Cluny 
itself possessed a rich library of Greek and Latin authors. 

In 1245, when Pope Innocent IV. was a fugitive in France, and 
the prelates and abbots rallied round him, the prior of Cluny pre- 
sented him with eighty palfreys splendidly caparisoned, besides a 
large sum of money, and a palfrey each for the twelve cardinals ; 
and in return he was appointed by the pope his master of the 

From this time we hear but little of Cluny until the Revolution. 
At the suppression of the monasteries, the monks were driven out 
and the destruction of the buildings was decreed by the Republic. 
The mayor of Cluny, anxious to save so magnificent a monument, 
went himself to Paris and petitioned that it might be converted 
into a hospital for invalid soldiers. But the inhabitants of the 
Commune, eager to make money of the materials and the site, pre- 
sented a remonstrance, alleging that the vicinity of the military 
veterans would corrupt the morals of the town. The remonstrance 
prevailed. The church was first demolished ; the south bell-tower 
and a chapel enclosing a tomb, supposed to be that of Peter the 
Venerable, alone being left : the bells were melted into cannon for 
the Republican armies. The abbey walls offered so formidable a 
resistance that a detachment of troops was called in to assist in the 
work of destruction. " When this was accomplished, when the last 
offending buttress had been battered down, the people made a pile 
of the paintings, statues of wood, and carved work, and setting fire 
to them in the public square, celebrated their triumph by dancing 
round with yells and shouting. Some years afterwards, on his way 
to assume the iron crown of Lombardy, Napoleon passed through 
the department. At a town where he stopped to change horses, he 
was met by a deputation from the commune with a request that he 
would honour them by taking Cluny in his route. ' Begone 1 ' was 
the stern reply. ' You are a race of Vandals ; you have suffered 
your grand and beautiful church to be sold and destroyed ; I shall 
not visit Cluny.'" 

What remains of the abbey, besides the church itself, has been 
converted into an Ecole normale professionnelle. The library has 
been taken to Paris, but a few relics are still preserved on the spot, 
e.g., the long crook with which the monks used to set apart the 
abbot's tenth sheaf in the fields ; a massive chest and escritoire, 
and some weighty coffers of oak, which were the abbot's "port* 
manteaux" when he travelled. The town of Cluny grew up round 
the great ecclesiastical edifice. Its streets are narrow and winding, 


and at the present time ill-kept. They abound in quaint houses, 
some dating from the twelfth century. 

Amongst the numerous apartments and offices of a monastery, 
the library and scriptorium held an important place. The formation 
of a library at that day was a great undertaking. Books were few, 
for parchment was dear, and writing was a rare art, the more so as 
the language in which it was practised was almost exclusively Latin. 
There was but little trade in books, at least north of the Alps. 
They were to be purchased chiefly at certain Italian monasteries, 
in which manuscripts were multiplied for sale. It was usual for 
neighbouring convents to lend one another their manuscripts to be 
copied : sometimes these were sent long distances for this purpose. 
Peter, abbot of Cluny, writing to the prior of Chartreuse, tells him 
that he had sent him the lives of Gregory Nazianzen and Chry- 
sostom, with Ambrose's treatise Against Symmachvs. He had not 
sent Hilary On the Psalms, because there was in his copy the 
same defect as in the prior's. Prosper Against Cassianus he did 
not possess, but had sent into Aquitaine for it. He begs the prior 
to let him have the greater volume of Augustine, containing his 
correspondence with Jerome, because a great part of his own copy, 
whilst lying at one of the cells, had been eaten by a bear ! Some- 
times books were lent on the condition that a copy should be re- 
turned with the volume. 

The scriptorium, at first a small cell, gradually grew, in the 
larger monasteries, to be a spacious chamber, where many writers 
were employed who daily sat down to their work in a very business- 
like manner. The abbot of St. Martin's at Tournay used to exult 
in " the number of writers the Lord had given him." In his 
scriptorium (not one of the largest) " a dozen young monks were 
to be seen, seated in perfect silence, at writing tables furnished 
with every appliance. Here were transcribed all Jerome's com- 
mentaries on the prophets, all the works of Pope Gregory the Great, 
and whatever the abbot could lays his hands upon, of Augustine, 
Ambrose, Isidore, Bede and Anselm." Nor was the work of the 
transcriber always confined to men. Diemudis, a nun of Wesso- 
brunn in Bavaria, was very skilful in the art. Besides office books 
for the Church service, she engrossed "in a most beautiful cha- 
racter" copies of the Gospels and Epistles, an entire Bible in two 
volumes, and another in three, with portions of the works of many 
of the Fathers. 

The work of the transcriber was laborious. Some have left furtive 
side-notes by which we may see what was passing in their minds. 
One prays his patron saint to deliver him from his toil ; another 


longs to be off from his ink that he may console himself with a cup 
of wine ; a third gives thanks that the day is drawing to a close. 
More devout is the prayer in a very early French Visigothic manu- 
script (eighth century) : " Vouchsafe, Lord, to bless this scrip- 
torium of thy servants, and all who labour therein ; that whatso- 
ever sacred writings shall be here written or read, may be received 
with understanding, and bear good fruit." Very often we meet 
also with a solemn imprecation, sometimes in verse, on the head of 
any miscreant who should abstract the volume. The cloister rule 
of silence gave rise to a language of signs. In the library the sign 
for a book was to move the hand as if turning over the leaves, to 
which was added a particular sign for the Missal, Gospels, Epistles, 
Psalms, the Rule, and so on. When the monk wanted a heathen 
author he was to scratch his ear like a dog. 

Every great house had its peculiar style of writing, so that in 
many cases the parentage of a given manuscript is easy to be de- 
termined. The several houses vied with one another in the beauty 
of their calligraphy and the splendour of their capital letters, which 
gleamed with gold, silver, and vermilion. These illuminated copies 
were show-books, to be brought out on high festival days. 


Monastic Life in the Middle Ages (continued). CIteaux. 

From Cluny we must travel some leagues in a north-easterly direc- 
tion, still in Burgundy, to note the foundation of a rival house, 
which was to eclipse that renowned convent, if not in privileges and 
wealth, yet in its influence on the religious life of Christendom. 
This was Citeaux (in Latin, Cistercium), twelve miles south of 
Dijon, then a wilderness covered with woods and briars. 

Two brothers of the noble house of Molesme (a castle south-east 
of Troyes) were riding through a forest on their way to a tourna- 
ment. Suddenly each was seized with the temptation to murder 
the other, and thus secure the whole of their paternal inheritance. 
They both wrestled with the dark phantom, and mastered it. Some 
years afterwards they passed together again along the same dreary 
road, and the recollection of their former temptation came back to 
them. They shuddered at the fearful power of the enemy, hastened 
to confess themselves to a hermit, and then disclosed to each other 
what had been their secret thoughts. With one accord they re* 


solved to abandon a world which bred such dreadful suggestions, 
and devote themselves to God. Accordingly they gathered around 
thern in the forest of Colan, near the family estate, a small com- 
munity which grew into a monastery, one of the brothers, Kobert, 
being made the first abbot. It was affiliated to Cluny. 

The course of the new monastery did not run smooth. Eobert 
was a zealous disciplinarian ; the major part of the monks were lax 
and ungovernable. The more earnest members of the community, 
weary of seeing the rules of the order perpetually disregarded, asked 
permission of the abbot to withdraw to some other place where they 
might serve God without distraction. Eobert not only gave them 
permission, but declared that he would himself accompany them. 
Having obtained the sanction of the papal legate, he himself with 
his prior, and with Stephen Harding an Englishman, and eighteen 
other monks, left Molesme (a.d. 1098) to seek, as Milman expresses 
it, "a more complete solitude, a more obstinate wilderness to tame, 
more sense-subduing poverty, more intense mortification." Such 
a spot they found at Citeaux. 

It was not the object of this little band to found a new order of 
monks, but rather, as had been the case at Cluny, to recall the 
monastic life to the original spirit and strict rule of Benedict. 1 
Fuller quaintly puts the case : " As mercers, when their old stuffes 
begin to tire in sale, refresh them with new names to make them 
more vendible ; so, when the Benedictines waxed stale in the 
world, the same order was set forth in a new edition, corrected and 
amended under the names, first of Cluniacs : these were Bene- 
dictines sifted through a finer search, with some additionals invented 
and imposed upon them by Odo, abbot of Cluny ; secondly Cister- 
cians, so called from one Eobert, living in Cistercium in Burgundy 
aforesaid; he the second time refined the drossy Benedictines." 2 

It was perhaps in order to signify more plainly his intention, that they 
changed the colour of their garments from black to white. 

2 Citeaux was not the only attempt at reformation in this period on the part 
of those who aimed only at the correction of abuses, unconscious that the 
foundations themselves were out of course. A pious and learned ecclesiastic 
named Bruno, shocked at the profanation of holy things which he daily wit- 
nessed in the archbishopric of Cologne, sought refuge in a life of the strictest 
asceticism. With twelve companions, about the year 1084, he settled himself 
down in the wild valley of Chartreux (Carthusium) not far from Grenoble, 
founding the abbey since known as La Grande Chartreuse, where they spent 
their day in silence, devotional exercises, study, and manual labour. They 
employed their leisure hours in transcribing manuscripts. The Carthusians 
enjoyed the rare merit of long maintaining unaltered their strict mode of living 
and contemplative habits, even when their order had become famous and their 
monasteries richly endowed. 


" These monks of Citeaux," saysMorison, describing their habits in 
the early days, " though very wonderful, do not tempt one to join. 
They actually keep the whole of St. Benedict's rule literally, not 
conventionally and with large allowances, as is usual [even] in the 
strictest houses. They eat but one meal a day, and have risen 
twelve hours from their hard couches, and sung psalms, and worked 
in the fields, before they get even that. They never taste meat, 
fish, grease or eggs, and even milk only rarely. Their dress con- 
sists of three garments, and those of the coarsest wool. Their 
church shows no attempt towards picturesque beauty, but in all 
things aims at the austerest simplicity." 1 

For a while it seemed as though the experiment would prove a 
failure. The little community, unrecruited from without, was 
thinned by death ; a season of scarcity bringing with it an epidemic 
sickness. But just at the moment when affairs were at their 
worst, new elements of life were infused. Bobert being by com- 
mand of the pope obliged to return to his former charge at Molesme, 
Alberic his prior was elected abbot in his room, and on Alberic's 
death in 1109, Stephen succeeded to the vacant seat. Stephen 
Harding was a native of Sherborne in Dorsetshire, 2 and was in- 
structed in the priory at that place in reading, writing, music, and 
the services of the Church. Under the tyrannical rule of William 
the Conqueror he fled to Scotland, and thence removed to Paris, 
where he applied himself to the study of Holy Scripture and Biblical 
learning. After visiting Rome to view the tombs of the martyrs 
he joined Robert at Molesme, and thence accompanied him to 
Citeaux. Stephen was a man of piety, 3 extensive learning, and 
large administrative capacity. He conceived the project of retaining 
in intimate connection with Citeaux all the religious houses which 
should spring from it. A general chapter of the heads of these 

1 "The crosses were of iron or painted wood; the lamps, candlesticks, cen- 
sers, of brass or iron, and the chalices of silver gilt." 

2 Sherborne had long been an ecclesiastical centre, having been made an 
episcopal town in a.d. 705, when Aldhelm, abbot of Malmesbury, was appointed 
to the see (since become that of Salisbury). Aldhelm was a member of the 
royal family of Wessex, and a man of activity, who did much to spread monastic 
Christianity in the west of England. He is the first Englishman whose writings 
have come down to us ; they are however of little interest. 

8 It is related of him that when entering the church for even-song he was 
observed to press his finger forcibly upon the latch of the door, as if he would 
leave the impression of a seal. Being asked the meaning of the action, he 
replied: "The thoughts which occupy me during the day in the management 
of the monastery, I leave here, and bid them remain until I call for them to- 
morrow morning after praiset" 


houses was to be held yearly, for the transaction of the common 
affairs and for the weal of the whole order ; and the abbot of 
Citeaux was himself to visit at least once a year all the affiliated 
houses. The document in which this scheme was embodied was 
called the Charter of Charity. Of Stephen's erudition we have con- 
vincing proof in the corrected edition of the Latin Vulgate, which 
with the help of some learned Jews, he made from Hebrew manu- 
scripts. 1 

But it was not altogether or even mainly to the Charter of 
Charity, that Citeaux was indebted for its rescue from decay or 

Some fifteen miles north, two miles beyond Dijon, stood the 
castle of Fontaines, whose ruins are still to be traced. It crowned 
a hill-summit, and commanded a fair prospect of the city, and 
beyond it of the fruitful plain of the Saone in which Citeaux lay, 
bounded by the mountains of the Cote d'Or. Here dwelt the 
wealthy baron Tesselin, vassal and friend of the Duke of Bur- 
gundy. He was a true knight, the very mirror of chivalry, as 
gentle as he was brave. Being at one time drawn into a quarrel, 
it was agreed to settle the matter by single combat. Tesselin was 
the stronger of the two, and victory would have been easy, but his 
soul was disquieted. The fear of the divine judgments weighed 
upon him ; and he resolved to be reconciled to his adversary. And 
so when the time came and the two champions appeared at the 
place of meeting, instead of drawing his sword Tesselin frankly 
gave up the point in dispute. His wife Alith was a pious and 
charitable lady. She sought out the poor, relieved their sick, and 
" cleansed their cups and vessels with her own hands." In her 
latter years she rivalled the devotions and austerities of the nuns, 
setting before her, alas ! that mistaken pattern " of self-sacrifice and 
holiness which alone was attractive and beautiful in that age." So 
great was her reputation that when she died, the abbot of St. 
Benignus in Dijon (now the cathedral) came to Fontaines and 
begged her body as a most precious treasure. He and his monks 
bore it away on their shoulders, and were met by a large con- 
course of people with crosses and tapers, who accompanied them to 
the church where they buried her. 2 To Tesselin and Alith was 
born, in 1091, a son, the Bernard of whom we have just spoken. 

The work, written on vellum in six folio volumes, is still preserved in the 
city library of Dijon. Its date is 1110. It is carefully and clearly engrossed. 

2 Alith' s chair, or what is traditionally believed to be such, is still to be seen 
in the Ducal Palace (now the Hotel de Ville) at Dijon. It is of inlaid oak, 
roomy and comfortable. In the same hall is also to be seen Bernard's wooden 

348 Witnesses for christ. 

The boy was sent in due time to the church -school of Chatillon, 
where he distinguished himself by his progress, and was remarked 
as being not only studious but fond of retirement and "marvel- 
lously cogitative." His mother had destined him for the Church, 
but after her death the young nobles, his companions, sought to 
win him to their company by pleasures and adventures. Finding 
these inducements too weak to tempt so ardent and soaring a spirit, 
they set before him a more insidious bait. The nations of Europe 
were at this time arousing themselves from the slumber of the 
tenth century, and an extraordinary enthusiasm for literature and 
philosophy was springing up, especially in France ; the young men 
who had previously aspired to honour only by the weapons of war, 
now sought it by those of dialectics. It was at this very period that 
Abelard, having overcome his rival William of Champeaux, was 
lecturing in Paris to a vast concourse of students. For some time 
Bernard was dazzled by the allurements of this new path to glory. 
But the impression made upon him by his mother's teaching and 
example survived long after her death, and could not be effaced 
even by this temptation. Her image was constantly before him ; 
he pondered over the discourses she had held with him, and the 
plans she had formed for him ; and his ardent imagination led him 
to believe that she appeared visibly and rebuked him for his in- 
decision. Journeying alone to visit two of his brothers in the camp 
of the Duke of Burgundy, who was then laying siege to the Castle 
of Grancy, he thought he again beheld her and heard her speaking 
to him in the same accents of reproof. Eetiring into a church by 
the roadside, "he lifted his hands towards heaven, and with a 
torrent of tears poured forth his heart like water in the presence of 
his Lord." 

This was the turning-point. When he arose from his knees, he 
solemnly vowed that he would become a monk. Not satisfied with 
this, he at once sought to induce his kindred to follow him into the 
cloister. In this endeavour he displayed " that commanding per- 
sonal ascendancy, that overpowering influence of spirit, which 
hardly met with a defeat during his whole life." His uncle, the 
opulent Count of Touillon, of high renown in arms, was the first to 
join him. Bartholomew and Andrew, his two younger brothers, 
made but small resistance to his earnest appeal. The eldest, Guido, 
who had wife and children, was harder to win, but at length he too 
yielded. Gerard, the second in age, a brave and prudent knight, 

cup which he used at Citeaux, now bound with brass, and the crozier of Robert, 
the first abbot, curiously carved and ornamented. 


despised this sudden resolution of the rest as an impulse of levity, 
and withstood all Bernard's solicitations. " I know, my brother," 
rejoined Bernard, " that it is suffering alone which will bring thee 
to reflection." Then placing his hand on Gerard's side : " It shall 
come to pass, and quickly too, that a lance shall pierce thee here, 
and make a way to thy heart for the counsel of salvation which 
thou now despisest." A few days afterwards, when engaged in 
fighting, Gerard was surrounded and carried off captive with a 
spear in his side. " I turn monk," he exclaimed, " monk of 
Citeaux I" 1 

Many of the new votaries being married, Bernard caused a nun- 
nery to be erected at Jouilli near Dijon for their wives, Guido's 
consort being appointed the first abbess. He then led his followers, 
about thirty in number, to Chatillon, where during six months in 
rigorous seclusion they prepared themselves for the monastic life. 
At the end of that time, Bernard and his brothers returned to Fon- 
taines to take a final leave of their paternal home. Nivard, the 
youngest son, was playing with some other children in the street, 2 
and Guido addressing him said, " See, my brother, the whole of 
our paternal inheritance will now devolve on thee." To which the 
boy answered: "What, do you take heaven for yourselves, and 
leave me only the earth ? This is no fair division." He afterwards 
joined the fraternity ; and the old baron, full of grief at the loss of 
his sons, retired to Clairvaux soon after the establishment of that 
abbey, and himself took the vows. 

It did not accord with Bernard's self-denying purpose to make 
choice of any of the richer and more illustrious abbeys ; he selected 
the poor and struggling convent of Citeaux. This house, then of 
fifteen years' foundation, was, as has been said, reduced to a very 
low condition. On a memorable day, not only in the history of 
Citeaux, but in that of the world, Bernard, then twenty-two years 
of age, presented himself with thirty companions at the gate of the 
monastery. This was in the year 1113. Many of the little com- 
pany were of noble rank, and all were animated in a greater or less 
degree with the enthusiastic spirit of their leader. 

Although the rule of the convent was excessively severe it was in- 
sufficient to satisfy Bernard's craving after spiritual life. In him 
the spirit of the ancient Egyptian monks may be said to have re- 

1 The story of Guido's submission is fearful. Bernard pursued his work of 
proselytism so pitilessly that mothers hid their sons, and wives their husbands, 
at his approach. 

2 An ancient narrow street still runs down from the crest of the hill where the 
castle stood. 


visited the earth. He dwelt alone, save when on his knees with the 
rest in the choir. He passed whole days " in ecstatic contem- 
plation, so that seeing he saw not, and hearing he heard not. Time 
given to sleep he regarded as lost." Of the scanty food which he 
took, rather to avert death than to sustain life, his unconscious 
taste lost all perception, whether it was nauseous or wholesome. 
Extreme weakness of stomach followed these severities, yet "his 
dauntless spirit never yielded." So long as he was ahle he joined 
the other monks in their hard manual labour ; and when obliged 
to give up such work, he turned to lighter but more menial offices, 
that he might supply by humility his deficiency in toil. 

" The visits of his friends who were still in the world were a 
source of great disquiet to him. Their conversation brought back 
thoughts and feelings which he had determined to leave for ever. 
After their departure, on one occasion, he went to attend the office 
of Nones, and as usual lifted his mind to prayer ; but immediately 
found that God's grace and favour were not vouchsafed as before. 
That idle talk was evidently the cause. The next time they came 
he was prepared. Stopping his ears with little wads of flax, and 
burying his head deep in his cowl, although exposed for an hour to 
their conversation, he heard nothing, and even spoke nothing except 
a few words to edification." 

When at work in the fields, Bernard was accustomed " to look 
through nature up to nature's God." " Any knowledge of divine 
things that I may possess," he wrote in after years, " or any 
facility in explaining Holy Scripture, has been obtained through 
mediation and prayer in the fields, with none but the beeches and 
oaks for my teachers." " Believe me," he wrote to a celebrated 
teacher of the speculative philosophy, " thou wilt find more in woods 
than in books, and trees and stones shall teach thee that which thou 
canst not learn from man." 1 Especially were the sufferings of our 
Lord the theme of his meditation. He compared this exercise to 
the bundle of myrrh which the Spouse in the Canticles gathers 
with pious care to plant in her bosom. " From the very beginning 
of my conversion, my brethren," so he expresses himself in one of 
his sermons, " feeling my own great deficiency, I took this nosegay, 
composed of all the sufferings and pains of my Saviour, of the 
privations He submitted to in his childhood, the labours He endured 
in his preaching, the fatigue He underwent in his journeyings, his 

1 " This our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything." 
Had Shakspeare read Bernard? 

Bernard's departure from citeaux. 851 

watchings in prayer, his temptations in fasting, his tears of com- 
passion, the snares laid for his words, his perils among false 
brethren, the outrages, spitting, smiting, mockery, insults, nails. 
In these contemplations I find relief from sadness, moderation in 
success, and safety on the highway of life. My most sublime 
philosophy is to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 

Bernard's reputation soon drew so many votaries to Citeaux, that 
the convent became too small to receive them. The very year in 
which he was admitted a colony was settled at La Ferte, on the 
river Grone ; the next year another was planted at Pontigny ; and 
in 1115 Bernard himself was selected by Stephen to go forth and 
found a new monastery in such place as he might choose. Twelve 
monks, representing the twelve Apostles, were chosen to accompany 
him, of whom four were his brothers, one his uncle and another a 
kinsman. After divine service in the church, Stephen placed a 
cross in Bernard's hands, who at the head of his little band solemnly 
walked forth from Citeaux. " When," says the Cistercian Chronicle, 
"Bernard and his twelve monks silently took their departure, al- 
though nothing was to be heard but the voices of those who were 
singing the hymns, you might have seen tears in the eyes of all 

Notwithstanding Bernard's departure the fame of Citeaux daily 
increased, and candidates for the white cowl flocked thither in over- 
whelming numbers. Within fifty years of its foundation it could 
reckon as belonging to it five hundred affiliated abbeys or nunneries ; 
by the commencement of the next century these had increased to 
eighteen hundred ; and at one time, it is stated, there were no fewer 
than ten thousand. 1 

Much good doubtless was effected by the planting of so many 
religious houses, glowing with the ardour of their first love. But 
this good was not unmixed. The charity of their Charter did not 
extend to those who differed from them. When the Church began 
to take systematic action for the suppression of heresy, it was 

1 Most of the great English abbeys, Tintern, Bievaulx, Fountains, Furness, 
Netley, were Cistercian. The first of the order in this country was Waverley in 
Surrey, founded 1128. "The order," says a Eoman Catholic writer, "took to 
itself all the quiet nooks, valleys, and pleasant streams of Old England, and 
gladdened the soul of the labourer by its constant bells. Its agricultural 
character was peculiarly suited to the country." " The Cistercians," says Mrs. 
Green, " founded their houses amongst the desolate moorlands of Yorkshire, in 
solitary places which had known no inhabitants since the Conqueror's ravages, 
or amongst the swamps of Lincolnshire. One hundred and fifteen monasteries 
were built during the nineteen years of Stephen's reign, more than had been 
founded in the whole previous century ; 113 were added during Henry's reign,'' 


Cistercian monks whom the pope chose to confute and brow-heat the 
reformers, and to incite their fellow-citizens against them ; it was 
Cistercian monks who everywhere traversed the land preaching with 
furious zeal the crusade against the Albigenses ; and an abbot of 
Citeaux itself was the inspiring genius and leader of the detestable 
enterprise. 1 

After a time, as might be expected, abuses crept into the Cister- 
cian monasteries, and discipline began to hang down her hands. A 
fruitful source of mischief was that the patron of a monastery, on 
the death of the abbot, sometimes conferred the revenues on some 
kinsman or favourite in commendam, as it was called. These abbots 
in commendam were often not monks at all ; some never visited the 
abbeys whose revenues they enjoyed; others " quietly established 
themselves in the house with wife and children ; and the tramp of 
soldiers, the neighing of horses and baying of hounds, made the 
cloister more like a knight's castle than a place dedicated to God's 

Some remains of the ancient monastery of Citeaux still exist, 
and form part of a large reformatory for boys which covers the 
original site. 


Monastic Life in the Middle Ages (concluded). 
Clairvaux, and Bernard. 

We left Bernard and his twelve disciples filing out from the walls 
of Citeaux. They took a northerly direction, and after a journey 
of about ninety miles arrived at La Ferte on the river Aube, in 
Champagne, between Troyes and Chaumont. Four miles beyond 
this little town lies a shallow valley encircled by thickly-wooded 
hills. It was once a haunt of robbers, and was called from the 
abundance of the plant which grew there, the Valley of Wormwood ; 
but after Bernard settled at the spot its name was changed to the 
Bright Valley (Claravallis, Clairvaux). The little company arrived 
in June, and began at once to provide for shelter and sustenance. 
" The rude fabric which they raised was long preserved by pious 
veneration. It consisted of a building covered by a single roof, 

1 See below, chap. 7. 

Bernard's faith. 358 

under which chapel, dormitory and refectory were all included. 
The bare earth served for floor ; the windows were scarcely wider 
than a man's hand. Immediately above the refectory was the 
sleeping apartment, a loft reached by a ladder. The beds were 
boxes or bins of planks, a small space hewn out with an axe allowing 
room for the sleeper to get in or out. The inside was strewn with 
chaff or dried leaves. At tbe summit of the ladder was the abbot's 
cell, a framework of boards was his bed, with two logs of wood for 
his pillows." The toil of building left tbe brethren but little time 
to provide themselves with food. They had taken possession of the 
wilderness too late in the year to sow the ground, and the neigh- 
bouring farmers, who at first ministered to their wants, soon 
became familiar with their sanctity and their necessities, and ceased 
to regard either. Their food was bread made of barley and millet, 
with beech-leaves cooked in brine, and when these failed there was 
nothing left but nuts and roots. Their clothes too were wearing out. 
The hearts of the brethren, stout as they were, began to quail : 
" they would not remain in this valley of bitterness, they would 
return to Citeaux." It was all Bernard could do to prevent them. 
He had recourse to prayer. As he prayed, he thought he heard a 
voice from heaven : " Arise, Bernard, thy prayers are heard." On 
which the monks said, " What didst thou ask of the Lord ? " 
" Wait, and ye shall see, ye of little faith," was the reply; and 
presently ^here came a stranger, who gave the abbot ten livres. 
Another time their supply of salt failing, Bernard said to one of the 
brethren, " Guibert, saddle the ass, go to the fair and buy us salt." 
Guibert answered, "Where is the money?" "Take faith," replied 
Bernard, " for as to money, I know not when we shall have any ; 
but He who is above holds my purse in his hands." The monk 
smiled and rejoined, " It seems to me, father, that if I go empty- 
hauded, I shall return empty-handed." "Nevertheless go," replied 
the abbot, " and go in faith. I tell thee our Treasurer will be with 
thee, and will supply all thou needest." Guibert received his 
abbot's benediction and went, though still more than doubtful of 
the issue. On the way he met a priest who inquired his business. 
Guibert told his errand, and made known the indigent state of his 
convent ; the compassionate priest, taking him to his own house, 
gave him half a bushel of salt and fifty shillings. On Guibert's 
return with his panniers filled, Bernard said to him, "I tell thee, 
my son, no one thing is so necessary to a Christian as faith ; keep 
hold of faith, and it will be well with thee all the days of thy 

After this crisis was over, brighter days opened on Clairvaux. 



Indeed, as Morison observes, the way to fame for a new monastery 
seems to have been " first of all to get nearly extinguished by cold 
and hunger." Stephen Harding had appointed Bernard abbot of 
the new foundation. The appointment was incomplete without 
episcopal ordination. Bernard received this at the hands of William 
of Champeaux, mentioned above. Through his emaciated frame 
and features, and homely, not to say ragged apparel, the bishop 
discerned the lofty intellect and unquenchable spirit which dwelt 
in so frail a tabernacle, and became his admirer and steadfast 

The labours and anxieties through which he had passed, added 
to his own excessive austerities, brought Bernard to the brink of 
the grave. William, hearing of his dangerous condition, came to 
visit him, hoping to induce him to spare himself and take rest. 
But Bernard would hear of no relaxation, either of his duties or 
austerities ; whereupon William set off for Citeaux. He found the 
chapter assembled, and asked permission to direct and manage 
Bernard for one year. The leave was granted, and Bernard, 
obedient to the commands of his superiors, resigned himself into 
William's hands. The latter caused a small cottage to be built 
outside the monastery walls, where Bernard was to dwell, relieved 
from the monastic regimen, and from the daily care of the abbey. 
How far this prescription so affectionately intended was successful, 
may be learnt from his friend and biographer, the abbot of St. 
Thierry, who, accompanied by another abbot, visited him in his 
hut. " It was about this time (1116), that my visits to Clairvaux 
began. I found the saint enjoying a state of perfect tranquillity, 
and living to God as though he already tasted the delights of Para- 
dise. When I entered the chamber and beheld the lodging and the 
guest, a feeling of veneration came over me as if I had been 
approaching the altar of God. He welcomed us with gracious 
kindness, and when we inquired how he fared, and how he liked 
his new mode of life, ' Excellent well,' he replied, with his usual 
benevolent smile, I who have hitherto ruled over rational men, am 
now by the just judgment of God obliged to submit myself to an 
irrational being.' This he spoke concerning a conceited quack to 
whose care he had been entrusted, and who undertook to cure him. 
When we sat down to table, I expected to find his diet suited to the 
state of so precious an invalid, but he was served on the contrary, 
by the doctor's orders, with lumps of rancid butter and other viands 
so revolting, that a healthy man pinched by hunger would hardly 
have touched them. We were indignant, and could scarce restrain 
ourselves from breaking the rule of silence, and reproaching the 


empiric as a sacrilegious homicide. But he to whom all this was 
done took it all with indifference, and approved of everything. His 
sense of taste seemed dead ; water, he said, was the only thing 
pleasant to him, cooling the fever of his throat and mouth. I 
tarried with him a few days. I thought I saw all around me a new 
heaven and a new earth, crossed hy the old pathways of our 
fathers, the Egyptian monks, and the recent footsteps of some men 
of our own time. The golden age seemed to have returned in 

The whole convent was animated by Bernard's spirit and ex- 
ample. Men of illustrious descent who had played a distinguished 
part on the theatre of the world, now toiled in the sweat of their 
brow, and practised the extreme of self-denial. His biographer 
ihus describes the scene which presented itself on entering the 
valley. " It was a dreary spot, enclosed by gloomy woods and 
rugged hills, and as the traveller came down the slope he saw the 
valley full of men industriously occupied, but in profound silence, 
only interrupted by the sound of the implements and hymns of 
praise. So solemn was the stillness that strangers forbore to speak 
on any but sacred subjects, until they had passed beyond its 

At the expiration of the year, Bernard hastened to throw off the 
surveillance of the empiric, and to resume his abbatial duties. But 
his health had been too far undermined to bear the convent rule, 
and he was compelled again to retire into a separate dwelling. It 
is instructive to find that in after-years he lamented the youthful 
enthusiasm which had led him thus to waste his strength. 1 

Some remarkable anecdotes are told of Bernard's faith and of his 
power over men. During one of his visits to Paris, a.d. 1125, he 
was requested to lecture in the schools. He did so, dilating on 
" the true philosophy," contempt for the world, and voluntary 
poverty assumed for Christ's sake. To his surprise and grief his 
discourse made no impression ; not one of his hearers was converted. 
Eeturning to the house of the archdeacon with who m he lodged, he 
fell immediately to prayer ; as his soul waxed more and more fer- 
vent, he was overcome with a torrent of tears, and his sobs and 

1 He thus warns beginners against the excesses of asceticism. " It is your 
self-will which teaches you not to spare nature, nor listen to reason. I fear 
lest beginning in the Spirit you will end in the flesh. Do you not know that a 
messenger of Satan of ten clothes himself as an angel of light? God is Wisdom, 
and requires a love which unites itself with wisdom. The cunning enemy has 
no surer means of banishing love from the heart than by seducing men to walk 
imprudently, and not according to reason." 


groans were heard outside the room. The archdeacon inquired 
what could be the cause of such grief ? A monk who knew Bernard 
well replied: "That wonderful man, inflamed by the fire of charity 
and entirely absorbed in God, cares for nothing in this world, save 
only to recall the wandering to the ways of truth, and to gain their 
souls to Christ ; and because he has been sowing the word of life 
in the schools and has gathered no fruit in the conversion of the 
clerics, he thinks God is angry with him. Hence this storm of 
groans and tears ; I confidently anticipate that a full harvest to- 
morrow will compensate for to-day's sterility." The next morning 
Bernard preached again and with a very different result ; for as 
soon as his sermon was over, several of his hearers expressed their 
desire to become monks. Taking these with him he set out for 
Clairvaux, and passed the night at St. Denis. The next day how- 
ever, instead of continuing his journey homewards, he said, " We 
must return to Paris, there are still some there who belong to us." 
As they re-entered the city they saw three ecclesiastics coming to- 
wards them, at the sight of whom Bernard exclaimed : " God has 
helped us; behold those for whom we returned!" When the clerics 
came near, they addressed him : " most blessed father, hast thou 
come back to us who desired thee so much ? We were minded to 
follow, but hardly hoped to overtake thee." " I knew it, beloved," 
he replied ; "we will now, by God's grace, go on together." They 
accompanied him to Clairvaux, and continued under its rule the 
remainder of their lives. 

A wider scene now opens before us. In 1130, on the death of 
Pope Honorius II., two rival factions contended for the possession 
of the papal chair. One chose the Cardinal of St. Angelo, who 
took the name of Innocent II. ; the other, the Cardinal of St. Mary 
Trastevere, who was styled Anacletus II. The latter, with the 
assistance of Robert the Norman, Duke of Sicily, made himself 
paramount in Rome, and compelled his opponent to take refuge in 
Prance. Bernard passionately espoused the cause of the exiled 
pope, and it was mainly through his means that the trans- Alpine 
kingdoms, France, Germany and England, recognised Innocent as 
the lawful successor of Peter. In the course of the long journeys 
he undertook with this object, he had an interview with our king 
Henry I. : " the wisest soldier-statesman of his age, face to face 
with the greatest monk of Christendom." They met at Chartres. 
" Henry was undecided as to which pope would suit him best. His 
own clergy had a leaning towards Anacletus; that might be a 
reason for him to choose Innocent." "Art thou afraid," asked 
Bernard, "of incurring sin by acknowledging Innocent? Bethink 


thee how to answer to God for thy other sins ; that one leave to 
me, I will account for it." Henry joined the party of Innocent. 

Innocent paid a visit to Clairvaux. " He was met by a tattered 
flock of Christ's poor, preceded by a cross. They came on in 
solemn silence, every eye fixed on the ground ; no prying curiosity 
watching and following the movements of the brilliant cavalcade. 
The pope and bishops were moved to tears at the sight of so much 
austerity and self-restraint. The plain unornamented church, the 
bare walls of the monastery, offered nothing to the Eomans either 
to admire or wish for. The hard fare of the monks appeared more 
wonderful still. If by chance a fish was to be had, it was placed 
before the pope alone." 

When the tide turned in Innocent's favour and he ventured into 
Italy, Bernard accompanied him. As they drew near to Milan, 
"the whole population came out to meet the saint, as far as the 
seventh milestone. Nobles and common people, on horse, on foot, 
all proceeded to welcome, with an incredible reverence, the man of 
God ; they kissed his feet and sought to pluck even the hairs from 
his garment." Equal rejoicing manifested itself on the way as he 
returned to Clairvaux. " Wherever he passed the shepherds came 
from their hills and the rustics from their fields, if it might be only 
to behold him afar off and implore his blessing ; and when they 
had seen him they went back to their huts, rejoicing with one 
another that they had seen the saint of God." 

At the end of twenty years from its foundation, the monastery 
had outgrown its walls, not the original barn of wood only, but the 
stone buildings by which that structure had been replaced. The 
prior with a few others of the brethren came to Bernard in his 
cottage to consult him. "Tbe saint was in the heavens," says his 
biographer, " and they obliged him to come down and listen to 
their sublunary business." At first he appeared unwilling to make 
any change. " Our present stone buildings," he said, " have been 
erected at great cost and labour. If we sacrifice all this, worldly 
people may call us fickle, or may say that too much riches have 
made us mad. In truth, however, we have not the money; he who 
intends to build a tower must first sit down and count the cost, 
otherwise it will be said of him, ' This man began to build and was 
not able to finish.' " They answered that God who sent them so 
many brethren would doubtless provide the means of erecting 
buildings for tbem. Bernard was delighted with their faith, and 
gave his consent. Help poured in abundantly, " bishops, nobles, 
merchants, without being pressed, gave liberally ; labourers were 


hired, and the monks themselves fell vigorously to work," so that 
the new edifice was soon completed. 

We come now to an incident which exhibits in the darkest 
colours the spiritual arrogance of the Eomish Church. In the part 
he played on this occasion, Bernard showed himself not inferior to 
Ambrose or even to Hildebrand. 1 William Count of Aquitaine had 
espoused the part of Pope Anacletus, and had thrust out from their 
sees the bishops of Poictiers and Limoges, who favoured the cause 
of Innocent, replacing them by creatures of his own. For this 
offence he was excommunicated by Innocent ; and the papal legate, 
Geoffrey, bishop of Chartres, was sent into Aquitaine to procure the 
reinstatement of the deposed bishops. Unable to contend against 
William, he entreated Bernard to lend him his powerful assistance. 
They met the count at Parthenay. 2 Bernard and Geoffrey employed 
all their arguments and influence to induce him to restore the 
bishops, and even threatened him with the fate of Dathan and 
Abiram. The count heard them patiently, and replied that he was 
ready to acknowledge Innocent and Anacletus, but as to the expelled 
bishops, nothing in the world should induce him to receive them 
again ; they had offended him beyond forgiveness. Finding the 
count intractable, Bernard and Geoffrey, with those who might 
lawfully do so, entered the church, William as an excommunicated 
person remaining outside, standing by the door. Going up to the 
altar, Bernard performed the " overwhelming miracle " of the Mass,, 
and then with the Host in his hand, and in a transport of religious 
fury, came forth to the count. Not now with words of entreaty, 
but with flashing eyes and in a voice of thunder he thus addressed- 
him. " We have entreated thee, and thou hast spurned us. The 
united band of God's servants have implored thee, and them too 
thou hast spurned. Behold the Virgin's Son, the Head and Lord 
of that Church which thou persecutest, thy Judge is here into whose 
hands thy soul must fall. Wilt thou spurn Him also, wilt thou 
despise Him as thou hast done his servants ? " A silence as of 
death fell upon the terrified spectators, who, bowing their heads in 
prayer, waited in expectation of an immediate judgment from 
heaven. The count, when he saw the awful countenance of Ber- 
nard, in whose hands he verily believed his Judge and Lord to be 
at that moment holden, became stiffened in every limb, and fell 

i For the former, see ante, pp. 66-69. Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII.),. 
sixty years before the period at which we are now arrived, had compelled the 
Emperor Henry IV. of Germany to stand as a penitent for three days outside 
the gates of Canossa, thinly clad and fasting, with the ground deep in snow. 
2 Not far from Poictiers. 


insensible to the ground. Raised up by his attendant knights, he 
could neither speak nor see, and again fell with his face on the 
grass, foaming at the mouth. Bernard came close, and pushing 
him with his foot, told him to stand up and hear the judgment of 
God. "Here," he said, " is the bishop of Poictiers ; go and be re- 
conciled to him. Eestore him to his see, whence thou hast expelled 
him." The poor man heard, although he neither dared nor was 
able to speak, and went at once to the bishop, gave him the kiss of 
peace, and reinstated him in his office. Soon the count was in 
friendly converse with Bernard, who admonished him for tbe 
future to avoid such impious doings, lest he should in the end 
weary out the Divine patience. 

The history of Bernard's life introduces us to an ecclesiastical 
descendant of the good Patrick, and shows us into how abject a 
condition the once flourishing and evangelizing Church of Ireland 
had fallen. 

Malachy was consecrated bishop of Connaught at the age of 
thirty years. He soon discovered that he had been appointed, 
" not to rule over men, but over beasts, so insolent were they in 
their manners, so deadly in their rites, 1 so unbelieving in religion, 
so rebellious against discipline, so filthy in their lives. They were 
Christians in name, but pagans in reality. They would not pay 
tithes nor first-fruits, nor enter the bonds of wedlock, nor make 
confession, nor perform penance." In these untoward circumstances 
Malachy did what he could. " He passed whole nights sleepless, 
his hands lifted to God in prayer ; he rebuked the rebels publicly 
and privately, and when they would not come to church, ran after 
them through the streets, and searched the city 2 for such as he 
might win to Christ." 

Celsus, the primate, by his will appointed Malachy his successor ; 
but the Irish had the vicious custom of regarding the episcopal office 
as an heirloom, which ought not to be suffered to go out of the 
family; and Maurice, and after him Nigellus, of the "wicked seed" 
which had occupied the see of Armagh for two hundred years, suc- 
ceeded for a while in keeping Malachy out of his office. In the end 
Nigellus yielded, and Malachy, to consolidate his authority, made a 
journey to Rome to solicit the pallium (archbishop's cloak). 3 In 

1 Does this point to any remains of Druidical sacrifices ? 

2 Probably Tuam. 

3 This vestment was bestowed by the pope upon archbishops, at first as a 

token of augmented dignity and indicative of vicarial authority, but by the eighth 

century it had come to be conferred on all bishops as a badge of subordination 

to the " Apostolic See." 



crossing France he halted at Clairvaux. Bernard gave him a 
cordial reception. He wondered to see so holy and active a servant 
of Christ from so barbarous a nation. " I was refreshed," he says, 
" by his look and word, and rejoiced as much as in all riches." At 
Eome Pope Innocent II. condoled with him on the length of his 
journey, and appointed him his legate in Ireland ; but when he 
asked for the pallium, told him that if he would summon a general 
council of the bishops, clergy and chief men of the country, who 
should send a deputation to Eome, it should be granted. Then 
taking the mitre from his own head he placed it on Malachy's, 
giving him also the stole and maniple which he himself wore. 
Malachy spent a month in the city, making a round of the holy 
places for prayer. 

Nine years afterwards he repeated his journey to solicit the pal- 
lium, and on the way again visited Clairvaux. He had been only a 
few days in the abbey when he was seized with fever. The monks 
were emulous in their efforts to relieve and restore him ; but he 
foresaw that his days were numbered. On the former occasion he 
had entreated the pope for permission to live and die at Clairvaux, 
but his request had been refused. " Now," he said to the monks, 
" I shall not be baulked of my desire ; He who has led me to the 
place which I sought will not deny me the end I have wished for. 
This poor body will find its resting-place here, and as concerns my 
soul, the Lord will provide, who saves those who place their hope 
in Him." When he was to receive extreme unction, he would not 
allow the brethren to go up to the cell where he lay, but came down 
to them, and having taken the viaticum returned to his bed. None 
could believe he was dying. " His countenance," says Bernard, 
" was not pale, nor his forehead wrinkled, nor his eyes sunken, nor 
his flesh wasted. Such grace was in his body, such glory in his 
countenance, as even the hand of death could not efface. With 
psalms and hymns," he continues, " we followed our friend on his 
homeward journey. He died in his fifty-fourth year, at the place 
and time he had chosen and foretold." 

We have referred to the scholastic theology which arose about 
the end of the eleventh century. From the time of a controversy 
on the Lord's Supper between Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, 
and Berengar of Tours, the relish for the treatment of theology by 
the method of logic, as opposed to tradition, spread through Europe 
with astonishing rapidity. Lanfranc's disciple Anselm, archbishop 
of Canterbury in 1109, is regarded as the first of the Schoolmen. 
Paris was the chief seat of the new philosophy ; and next to it, 
after the year 1200, was Oxford. The most distinguished teacher 


;at the beginning of the twelfth century was Bernard's friend, 
William of Champeaux, who taught in the cathedral- school at 
Paris with great reputation, until the superior genius of his famous 
pupil, Peter Abelard, threw him into the shade. 1 

Abelard pursued the theological speculations to which Origen in 
the third century had pointed the way, and with even a more 
daring spirit. His lectures awakened in the youthfal students an 
enthusiastic admiration both for himself and his philosophy. The 
bishops and higher clergy took alarm, and a council was summoned 
at Soissons by the papal legate, before which Abelard was cited as 
a heretic, a.d. 1121. He was condemned without even being 
allowed to explain or defend his opinions. " The council," he 
says, " without discussion or examination, compelled me to burn 
my book" (his Treatise on the Divine Trinity and Unity) " with my 
own hands. And so it was burnt amid general silence." When 
he rose to expound his belief in his own words, his judges said 
there was no necessity for anything beyond the recital of the Atha- 
nasian Creed, " a thing which any boy could do." Thus saying, 
they placed before him a copy of the creed, as though it had been 
something altogether new to him. It was notorious that Abelard 
could not consistently subscribe the creed, that all he had written 
was in contravention of it, yet he wanted the moral courage to 
stand by his principles. Origen would have taught him otherwise, 
because in Origen the lofty flight of the intellect was controlled 
and regulated by a large measure of the love of Christ, and by the 
humility of a child of God. 2 "I read the creed," says Abelard, 
11 as well as I could amidst sobs, sighs and tears ; and then, like a 
convicted criminal, was delivered over to the abbot of St. Medard, 
to be kept in close custody in his monastery." Nevertheless this 
arbitrary condemnation by the synod of Soissons only increased 
his fame. 

Bernard occupied in theology a position the very opposite to that 
of Abelard. Holding that the mysterious doctrines of revelation are 
beyond the reach of intellectual analysis, he condemned every de- 
parture from the received teaching of Scripture upon divine things. 
Abelard had asked : " Why may not God, by an act of his will 

1 See ante, p. 348. 
2 The honour paid to intellectual superiority blinds men to the infinitely 
greater worth of moral integrity. It is common, for example, to style Galileo a 
martyr of science, and to condone his abjuration before Pope Urban VIII. of 
the cosmical truth that the earth moves round the sun. But he would have left 
a far nobler name, and been a far greater benefactor to mankind, if he had stood 
faithful to his own conscience, and set an example of fidelity to truth. 


alone, forgive men their sins, and deliver them from the power of 
Satan ? What need is there in order to this, of the sufferings of 

Christ ? Christ before his passion forgave many their sins 

How can God become reconciled to man through the death of his 
Son, when this death could not happen without involving the sin 
of so many who crucified Him, which sin was certainly far greater 
than Adam's, the partaking of a forbidden apple ? If God was so 
angry on account of that first sin, how can He be appeased in the 
case of so many far greater sins ? How unjust and cruel tbat God 
should require the blood of an innocent person as the price of par- 
doning so many guilty ! " Accordingly he looked upon the incar- 
nation and passion of the Son of God as simply a manifestation of 
divine love, and inferred that the " amazing grace shown us by 
God, who gave his own Son to become man and suffer for us, must 
enkindle in us such love in return, as to make us ready to endure 
all suffering for his sake." In like manner he denned redemption 
to be, "that supreme love which is enkindled in us by Christ's 
passion, a love which not only delivers us from the bondage of sin, 
but acquires for us the true freedom of God's children." To which 
Bernard justly replied : " Did Christ then merely teach righteous- 
ness ; did He not also bestow it ? Did He exhibit love only ; did He 
not also infuse it ? . . . "Who denies that other ways of redemption, 
justification, and deliverance were possible to the Almighty ? But 
this can make nothing against the way and method which He has 
chosen. We cannot fathom the holy will of God, but we can feel 
the effect of the work, we can be sensible of its benefit. Why did 
He accomplish that by the blood of Christ which He might have 
accomplished by a word ? Ask Himself. It is vouchsafed to me 
to know that the fact is so, but not why it is so. Sball the creature 
say to the Creator, Why hast Thou formed me thus ? ' . . . It was 
not the death of Christ, in itself, but his will in freely offering Him- 
self, tbat was acceptable to God ; and because tbis precious death, 
procuring the downfall of sin, could only be brought about by sin t 
God had not therefore pleasure in the sin, but used it for good. 
God did not require the death of his Son, but accepted it when 
offered ; He did not thirst for blood, but for man's salvation." 

Abelard would test revelation by reason ; he defines faith to be 
merely "an opinion concerning that which does not yet appear." 
Bernard replies : " He professes to explain all things by reason, 
even those which lie beyond the limits of reason ; he thus fights 
both against faith and reason, for what is more contrary to reason 
than tbrough reason to seek to soar above reason ? And what is 
more contrary to faith than to refuse our belief to that which we 


cannot attain by reason ? . . . Far be it from us to leave aught be- 
longing either to our faith or our hope in an empty opinion, so as to 
be removed from the sure and steadfast foundation of truth ; truth 
confirmed by God through prophecies and miracles, established 
and sanctified by the Offspring of the Virgin, the blood of the Be- 
deemer, the glory of the Eesurrection. With which outward cer- 
tainty we connect the inward : ' The Spirit Himself beareth witness 
with our spirit that we are children of God.' ... I behold three- 
several objects in the work of redemption the example of humility,. 
God emptying Himself; the measure of love extending even to- 
death, death on the cross ; the mystery of redemption, whereby 
death itself is annihilated. ... It is one thing to follow Jesus, it 
is another to cleave to Him through love, it is another still to feed 
upon his flesh and blood. To follow Him is a wholesome resolve ; 
to cling to and embrace Him is a noble joy ; to feed upon Him is a 
holy life, for He is that bread of life which cometh down from 
heaven, and giveth life to the world, and what is resolve or joy 
without life?" 

Between two such champions, both zealous and both confident, 
it was scarcely possible that a personal encounter should long be 
deferred. Bernard drew up an appeal to the pope, cardinals, 
princes and bishops to repress the arch-heretic, whom he designated- 
as Arius, Nestorius, Pelagius all in one, and scattered it broadcast 
over Europe. Abelard to protect himself persuaded the archbishop 
of Sens, whom Bernard had offended, and who was about to preside 
over a numerous synod (a.d. 1140), to summon Bernard to attend, 
and at the same time gave out that he was going to meet the great 
abbot of Clairvaux in logical combat. At first Bernard hesitated : 
" When all fly before his face, he selects me, the least of all, for 
his antagonist." But when he found that Abelard's disciples 
asserted that he did not dare to meet their master, he accepted the 
challenge. " I declined," he says, "partly because I was but a 
youth and he a man of war from his youth, partly because I hold 
it unmeet to submit matters of faith which are grounded on the 
sure and steadfast truth to the subtleties of human argumentation. 
.... Finally I yielded, not without great reluctance and many 
tears, to the counsel of my friends, and came to the appointed 
place at the appointed time, unprepared except with those words of 
Scripture : * Take no thought how or what ye shall speak : for it 
shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak ' ; and, ' The 
Lord is my helper ; I will not fear ; what shall man do unto 

The original object of the meeting at Sens was an exhibition of 


relics, and as the occasion was intended to be a very solemn one, 
the king, Louis VII., was present with a multitude of bishops, 
abbots and nobles. Abelard came with a troop of disciples : Ber- 
nard with two or three of his monks. The synod was held in the 
church of St. Stephen. The question of Abelard's heresies came 
up on the second day. Abelard entered, and walked up through 
the midst of the assembly, which was for the most part inimical to 
him. As he passed one of his fellow-schoolmen he whispered the 
proverb, " When thy neighbour's house is burning, thine too is in 
danger." Bernard stood in a pulpit, with Abelard's book before 
him, from which he caused to be read aloud the passages he had 
marked for reproof, condemnation or explanation. But the reading 
had hardly begun, when to the amazement of all Abelard rose, re- 
fused to hear more or to answer any questions, and saying he 
appealed to Borne abruptly left the assembly. The synod however 
cntinued its sitting, and did not suffer his heretical opinions to go 
uncondemned. They were read and re-read, and, say the bishops 
in their letter to the pope, " proved to be not only false, but plainly 
heretical, both by most evident reasons, and also by testimonies 
from Augustine and others of the Fathers, brought forward by the 
abbot of Clairvaux." 

Abelard proceeded towards Borne with the intention of personally 
pressing his appeal. Passing through Burgundy, he put up at 
Cluny. Peter the Venerable received him with a guileless charity. 
Abelard's heresies were as hateful to him as to any one, but with 
him charity was above everything. He wrote to the pope : 
" Master Peter (Abelard), as he lately came from France, 1 came to 
Cluny. He told me that, being oppressed by the attacks of certain 
persons who had branded him with the name of heretic, which he 
detested, he had appealed to Borne and was going thither for pro- 
tection. I exhorted him to seek Bernard, in company with the 
abbot of Citeaux, and to remove and expunge from his books what- 
soever he had written offensive to Catholic ears. They went to- 
gether to Clairvaux, and on their return Peter told us how he met 
Bernard, and that the old animosities between them were removed. 
Urged by me, he has chosen for himself a dwelling-place in Cluny, 
where I beseech thee to permit him to end his days, which per- 
chance will not be many." Abelard did not in fact long survive. 
On his death in 1142 the abbot of Cluny wrote to Abelard's friend, 
Heloise : " A long letter would be insufficient to unfold the humility 

1 Burgundy was not at this time part of France, but was ruled by its own 
.sovereign duke. 


and devotion of Master Peter's behaviour. He was sparing in his 
food and dress, and all that related to his body ; he read con- 
tinually ; he prayed often ; he was always silent, unless the con- 
versation of the monks, or a public discourse in the convent, drew 
him out of himself. Having become more infirm, I sent him to 
Chalons, because of the softness of the climate. There, so far as 
his malady would permit, he suffered not a moment to pass in 
which he did not either pray, read, write or dictate ; and so the 
divine visitor found him, not like many, slumbering, but on the 

Two years before he died, Bernard wrote a long letter to one of 
his disciples of the same name with himself upon his elevation to 
the papal chair under the title of Eugenius III. It was in effect a 
diatribe on the corruptions of Rome, and is a monument of his 
honesty and fearlessness. In reading it we are reminded of the 
language of Cyprian when he took a survey of heathendom, and of 
Salvian when he probed the festering sores of that degenerate 
Christianity which had taken the place of heathendom. 1 Rome in 
fact had never changed, but pagan or Christian had always shown 
herself ambitious, mercenary, carnal. " The grasping, the simoni- 
acal, the sacrilegious, the adulterous, the incestuous and all such 
like monsters of humanity," writes Bernard, " flock to Rome, in 
order either to obtain or to keep ecclesiastical honours at the hands 
of the pope. . . . Whom," he asks of Eugenius, " canst thou men- 
tion in that vast city, who received thee as pope without the inter- 
vention of a reward or the hope of one ? For the future thou wilt 
have no plan from which they will consider thou hast a right to ex- 
clude them, no secret into which they will not thrust themselves ; 
and if thy porter were to cause only a little delay to any one of 
them at thy doorway, I should not like to be in that porter's place. 
. . . They are cunning to do evil, but how to do good they know 
not. They are hateful to heaven and earth, on both of which they 
have laid violent hands ; impious they are towards God, seditious 
and envious among themselves, cruel towards strangers ; loving no 
man, they are loved of none. They cannot endure subjection, yet 
are incapable of ruling ; faithless to their superiors, intolerable to 
their inferiors. They are shameless in asking favours, truculent in 
refusing them, importunate to receive, restless till they do receive, 
ungrateful when they have received. They are great promisers,. 
but scanty performers ; most subtle flatterers and most biting de- 
tractors ; natural dissemblers and malicious traitors. Among such 

1 See Early Church History, p. 6, and ante, p. 180. 


men, thou, their pastor, movest about in gold and gorgeous ap- 
parel. . . . We nowhere read that Peter went about adorned with 
precious stones and decked with gold and silks ; nor mounted on a 
milk-white horse and surrounded with guards, nor attended by 
swarms of servants : herein thou art a follower, not of the apostle 
Peter, but of the Emperor Oonstantine. 1 . . . What do the sheep 
get of all this ? If I might speak out, it is demons, rather than 
sheep, which graze in these pastures. ... Is it not unbecoming in 
thee to have no law but thy own will, and because there is no 
tribunal before which thou canst be called, to exert thy power and 
despise reason ? Art thou greater than thy Lord who said, ' I came 
not to do mine own will'?" 2 

But the end was drawing nigh. Bernard could no longer take 
solid food ; even liquids gave him pain ; and sleep forsook his 
couch. A little while before his death he dictated these words : 
4i Pray to the Saviour, who willeth not the death of a sinner, that 
He do not delay my departure, and yet that He will be pleased to 
keep guard over it. By your prayers sustain him who has no 
merits of his own, that the enemy of our salvation may find no 
place open to his attacks." He died in 1153, at the age of sixty- 
three years. 

From Augustine to Luther the Church records no name so illus- 
trious as that of Bernard. What has been already related of him 
portrays the leading features of his character. One word more as 
to his humility. Strangely transported as he sometimes was with 
sacerdotal pride, it was nevertheless one of his chief cares to culti- 
vate a humble spirit. "He often told us," writes his secretary, 
*' that when he was in the midst of honours and flattering atten- 
tions he seemed to lose his personality ; he imagined himself as 
absent, and all that was going on before him as a dream. But 
when he conversed with the simple-minded of his monks he re- 
joiced to find himself again, and to be as it were in his own person. 

1 In respect of this pomp he adds, " I counsel thee to submit to it from 
regard to the customs of the times, but not to seek it as a thing becoming or 
due to thee." 

2 A contemporary of Bernard uses language if possible even stronger : " Turn 
to the citizens of Babylon (Rome) and observe what manner of people they be, 
and in what ways they walk. Come hither to the top of the mountain that 
thou mayest behold all the habitations of the damned city. Look on her princes 
and judges, cardinals and archbishops, the very seat of the Beast. Every day 
they are intent on doing evil, insatiably occupied with works of iniquity. They 
offer things sacred for sale ; they purchase iniquity, and labour with all their 
might that that may not descend alone to hell." 


He often declared that he never spoke in any company, however 
humble, without a feeling of awe coming over him ; he would have 
preferred to be silent had he not been moved by the pricks of con- 
science, the fear of God, and brotherly love." This testimony is 
confirmed by all his friends and disciples. Luther calls him "a 
man so godly, holy, and chaste, that he is to be commended and 
preferred before all the Fathers. Being grievously sick," he adds, 
* 4 and having no hope of recovery, he put not his trust in his life of 
singleness, wherein he had lived most chastely, nor in his good 
works and deeds of charity, whereof he had done many ; but re- 
moving them far out of his sight, and receiving the benefit of Christ 
by faith, he said, ' I have lived wickedly ; but Thou Lord Jesus 
dost possess the kingdom of heaven by double right : first, because 
Thou art the Son of God ; secondly, because Thou bast purchased 
it by thy death and passion. The first Thou keepest for thyself as 
thy birthright ; the second Thou givest to me, not by the right of 
my works, but by the right of thy grace.' " 

In person Bernard was rather above the middle height and ex- 
ceedingly spare, his whole body, to use the words of the monkish 
chronicler, " being most delicate and without flesh." He was of a 
clear and sanguine complexion, with a beard slightly inclining to 
red. His countenance was serene and heavenly, and an expression 
of " angelical purity and dove-like simplicity " beamed in his eyes, 
which are scarcely ever spoken of by his contemporaries without 
the addition of the epithet columbinus. 1 

Before Bernard had been many years dead, the abbey was rebuilt 
in a magnificent style, and the abbots and monks, forgetful of his 
prayers and tears and the example of his dedicated life, turned aside 
into that course of wealth and ease which he had so strenuously 
censured in Cluny. Instead of a plain house arose a palace, of 
which the dormitories, refectory, chapter-house and library were 
finished in the most richly decorated style, and adorned with 
statues of Bernard and his fellow-monks. In process of time the 
abbot was raised to the rank of a bishop, having under his rule in 
France eighteen abbeys, twenty-eight nunneries, and forty-one 
abbeys commendatory, besides forty in foreign countries. His 
annual income was 90,000 francs, besides 1072 quarters of wheat 
and 700 hogsheads of wine, and the tolls of forges and forests, with 

1 The well-known hymn, "Jerusalem the Golden," was not written by Ber- 
nard of Clairvaux, but by a contemporoary of the same name, a monk of Cluny 
under Peter the Venerable. This Bernard was born of English parents at 
Morlaix in Brittany. 


other perquisites. By way of recreation from the fatigues of 
office he possessed a superb country-house half a league from the 
monastery, with a chapel carved aud gilded and a choice gallery of 

The Eeformation period brought no material change to the 
monastic orders in Catholic countries, but by the beginning of the 
seventeenth century these had become so corrupt that a general 
reform was resolved on by the pope. To this the abbot and monks 
of Clairvaux offered a stout resistance, and enlisted on their side 
the all-powerful Eichelieu ; and when disgusted by their irregu- 
larities he gave them over to the papal commissioners, as a last 
expedient they persuaded their Cistercian brethren to join them in 
electing Eichelieu himself general of the order. Eichelieu accepted 
the dignity, still insisting on reform, but before his measures were 
ripe he died, a.d. 1642. No reform was effected ; the old abuses 
continued and new enormities were perpetrated, until the abbey 
fell to pieces by the weight of its own corruption. When, in 1793, 
the Eevolution like a whirlwind overthrew everything that bore 
the name of religion, there were but forty-five monks left to be ex- 
pelled from the once saintly, powerful and populous convent of 

The abbey was confiscated, 1 and some time afterwards converted 
into a Depot de Mendicite. Some years ago it was re-constructed as 
a prison or House of Industry for the reformation of criminals. 
From 1400 to 2000 convicts are usually here confined. The prison 
itself is surrounded by an inner wall, beyond which is another 
nearly three miles in extent, enclosing the buildings of the ad- 
ministration, with barracks, orchards, gardens and corn-fields. 
The prisoners are employed in manufactures of various kinds, the 
products of their labour being sold to the trade at a low price. On 
the nearest hill is a colossal statue of Bernard, stretching out his 
hands over the valley. From his feet you look down into the 
nearer courts of the prison ; and when you are weary of meditating 
on the busy hive of malefactors, pursuing their silent and com- 
pulsory tasks, whom however you do not see, you may in imagina- 
tion substitute for the prison the abbey such as it was in the time 
of the great monk. Then too the valley was full of labourers, but 
they were drawn from the noble and the free ; their labour was 
equally arduous, but it was the labour of Christian love ; there 

1 The books and manuscripts were taken to Troyes, and are now in the city 
library. Amongst the latter is Bernard's Bible, engrossed about the time of his 
birth, with marginal notes probably by his own hand. 


reigned over them a stillness as profound, but it was the stillness 
of religious devotion. Bernard and his monks missed, as we 
believe, the plain and simple pathway of Christian service, yet we 
must never forget that the ground and aim of their life was God's 
commands, Christ's love, and man's salvation. 


The Paulicians in Westekn Eueope. 

" I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will 
I write it ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every 
man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall all know 
me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the 
Lord : for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember 
no more." Thus Jeremiah in prophetic vision portrays the 
character of the New Covenant. The fulfilment of this prophecy 
is the theme of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who 
repeats it word for word, introducing it by declaring that Christ, 
who has obtained a more excellent ministry than Aaron, is the 
mediator of this new and better covenant. In these words the 
relation of the Christian Church to God is plainly set forth. The 
Old Covenant required a human priest as mediator, in the New the 
believer is brought near to God through Christ, the only possible 
mediator. In the Old Covenant, first Moses, and afterwards the 
priests, received heavenly gifts and dispensed them to the people, 
and the people in their turn brought offerings to the priests to be 
presented to God through their mediation. But in the New Cove- 
nant, the Gospel of the free grace of God, the heavenly gifts are 
poured down direct into the hearts of the believers, and their sins 
forgiven, without the intervention of any priest or mediator but 
Christ alone. It was the rejection of this grand truth that led the 
Church into a labyrinth of error. Instead of proclaiming the 
liberty of the New Covenant, she reimposed on men's consciences 
the old Levitical yoke, laden with burdens more numerous and 
heavier than before. The preaching of the Qospel is a holy 
obligation, the instruction of the ignorant is a blessed work, the 
shepherding and ruling of the Church, " not for filthy lucre, or as 
lording it over the charge," is an honourable office; but to create 



anew an order of men to whom the gifts and offices of the Spirit 
are limited, and to place the rest of mankind at a distance from 
God, with no access to the sanctuary but through that order, is 
virtually to deny the New Covenant, and to make the word of God 
of no effect. 

The attempts at reformation described in these pages were so 
many acts of returning faith in the fulfilment of Jeremiah's pro- 
phecy. The reformers had a sight of that goodly inheritance which 
the Saviour had purchased for them, and they strove according to 
their means to take possession of it both for themselves and for all 
mankind. Some of them were but partially enlightened, and their 
mistakes were lamentable ; yet inasmuch as by their means the 
lamp of truth was kept alive, they have a strong claim on our 
gratitude; and it may be asserted that in respect of Christian 
doctrine, as well as of purpose and manner of life, they are far 
better entitled to a place in Church history, than are those who 
sought to smother their testimony. 

Our notice of the monasteries has brought us to the twelfth cen- 
tury ; we have now to go back about 200 years in order to mark the 
dawn of evangelical truth in Western Europe. 

The tenth century is often spoken of as the midnight-hour of the 
Church's history. The Romish historians do not attempt to conceal 
the deplorable condition into which she had then fallen. " Behold," 
says Cardinal Baronius, that devoted champion of the papacy, " the 
900th year of the Redeemer, the commencement of a new century, 
which by reason of its ruggedness and barrenness of good has been 
called the Iron Age, by the deformity of its exuberant evil, the 
Leaden Age, and by its poverty of writers, the Dark Age. The 
holy Roman Church which had been without spot or wrinkle, with 
what filth was it her fate then to be bespattered ! . . . How foul 
was her face, when abandoned women bore rule, at whose will sees 
were changed, bishops presented, and false pontiffs, their lovers, 
intruded into Peter's chair ! . . . Then was Christ evidently in a 
<leep sleep in the ship, and the ship itself covered with the waves." 

But even the darkness of the tenth century was illumined here 
.and there, as we have seen in the monk Nilus, by streaks of golden 
light. Scarcely also had it closed than a new era began to dawn, 
an era during which the Cburch will, we may trustfully believe, 
never entirely relapse into the former darkness, but by however 
slow degrees, and amid whatever dense clouds and fearful storms, 
will pursue an upward course towards the goal of final glory. To 
trace the commencement of this new epoch is the object of the pre- 
sent chapter. 


Transplanted into Thrace by Constantine Copronymus in the 
eighth century, and again by John Zimisces in the tenth, 1 the 
Paulicians gradually made their way into Western Europe. ' ' Taking 
their course from Dalmatia, they spread into Italy, where they 
found a soil ready prepared to receive their tenets ; for ancient 
Manicheism had struck its roots so deep that the united efforts of 
emperors and popes had not been able to tear them up." Men's 
minds were everywhere ready to hear the gospel message. A 
craving for Scriptural knowledge and more soul-satisfying food than 
the effete Church was able to supply had arisen in the countries of 
the West ; and many of the clergy even were ready to welcome any 
protest against ecclesiastical corruption. 

Some of the sects which now made their appearance sprang up 
independently of Oriental influence. "The Cathari" (the most 
general name given to the reformers) " were," observes Neander, 
" by no means all like-minded or of a common origin." Many 
derived no more from the Paulicians than their first impulse and 
their acquaintance with the Bible. Once aroused to a living 
religion, their faith and practice developed itself in its own peculiar 
manner. Others needed no such impulsion ; "in them the de- 
votional study of the Bible produced a practical mysticism." All 
however in addition to the peculiar Gnostic tenets which were so 
deep-rooted, 2 aimed at the restoration of the Church to its spiritual 
and apostolic simplicity. They disclaimed those dogmas which 
had been added to the primitive Christian faith, such as purgatory, 
and the intercession of saints, together with the whole hierarchical 
system. " The sacraments," said some of them, "can in nowise be 
efficaciously administered by the degenerate priests of the dominant 
Church, because the question is not one of externals, but of the in- 
ward intention, in which these men are wanting. The true baptism 
is that of the Holy Ghost, whereby men are inwardly purified, the 
baptism by water being merely symbolical ; infant baptism is useless, 
because infants are incapable either of faith, of purpose of amendment, 
or of the reception of the Holy Spirit. The true signification of 
the Lord's Supper is also spiritual, imparting union with Christ as 
the true bread of the soul ; as our Lord says (John vi. 63), ' the 
flesh profiteth nothing.' " They seem to have rejected or wildly 

1 See ante, p. 310. 
2 Both contemporary writers and most modern historians call these sectaries 
Manichseans, but their doctrines connect them with the Gnostics rather than 
with Manes. All our information regarding them comes through their 


distorted the Old Testament revelation ; and yet at the same time to 
have accepted the precepts of Christ in their faithful and literal 
sense, condemning war, the shedding of blood, and all asseveration 
beyond the simple Yea and Nay. 

" There must," remarks Neander, "have been something pecu- 
liarly affecting and animating in the private assemblies of these 
heretics. Those who wished to be admitted into their society were 
to come to them by night ; the doors were closed, and the walls 
hung with lights. The brethren in devout silence formed a circle, 
into which the president, holding a copy of the Gospels in his 
hand, introduced the novice ; and after a short discourse, in which 
he exhorted him to ground his belief and hope of eternal salvation 
on God alone, he set the book on his head, prayed the Lord's 
prayer, and uttered over him the first words of the gospel of John, 
The new member then gave to the president, and to all in succession* 
the kiss of brotherhood; they united in prayer, and he was hence- 
forward regarded as a brother." 1 For a while these sects increased 
without being regarded as heretical, for they waged no open war 
with the Church ; they frequented the public worship in order to 
escape suspicion, and if questioned concerning their faith, they re- 
peated the Apostles' Creed. It was only in secret that they sought 
to disseminate their tenets ; and their unobtrusive piety and active 
benevolence had won for them the love and esteem of all men before 
the discovery of their heresy. 

The new opinions first made their appearance in Italy. 2 In 945 
Atto bishop of Vercelli wrote to his flock: "There are amongst you 
many persons who despise the divine service of the Church ; these 
men, who utter only words of brute ignorance and simplicity, you, 
forsaking your holy mother the Church and the priests, call pro- 
phets." Besides agreeing with the Cathari in regard to the 
" sacraments," and the unlawfulness of oaths and of the taking of 
life, the "prophets" maintained that the law of Moses is no rule for 
Christians ; that man cannot be saved by faith without works ; and 
that the Church has no authority to persecute any, even the wicked. 
They also avowed the untenable dogma of the Novatians and 
Donatists 8 that the Church, even as an outward institution, can 

1 Admission into the community was followed in due time by adoption into 
the inner circle of the Perfect. This was called Consolamentum. 

2 Some writers refer the origin of this early dissent to a period antecedent 
to the arrival of the Paulicians to Claude of Turin, or even to the primitive 
ages of the Church. 

3 See ante, p. 146. 


consist of good men only. They are represented as being decent in 
their deportment, modest in their dress and discourse, and irre- 
proachable in their morals : their bishops and deacons were 
mechanics who maintained themselves by their industry. By the 
year 1040 they had become very numerous at Milan, which was 
their chief centre. 

In the time of Heribert archbishop of Milan, 1 there was a sect 
whose head- quarters were at the Castle of Montfort, near the town 
of Asti in Piedmont. Many of the clergy and laity were numbered 
amongst its adherents, and it was protected by the nobles. If the 
accounts which their enemies have transmitted are at all to be 
relied upon, the tenets of these enthusiasts were of a very mystical 
kind, resembling those of the Euchites and Bogomiles. 2 Moreover 
they rejected marriage, married persons being admitted amongst 
them only on the condition of living apart ; they led a life of 
prayer and rigid abstinence, and renounced all earthly possessions. 
The archbishop despatched a military force against the castle, 
which was taken, and a number of prisoners were conveyed to 
Milan. They were led into the market-place, on one side of which 
stood a cross, on the other a pile of burning wood, and were told to 
take their choice, either to bow before the cross and confess the 
Catholic faith, or to plunge into the flames. A few chose the for- 
mer ; but the greater number, covering their faces with their hands, 
rushed into the fire and were consumed. Some years later (a.d. 
1075) Pope Gregory VII. (Hildebrand), writing to the King of 
Denmark, tells him of a province not far from Borne occupied by 
heretics, and invites him to send one of his sons with a small force 
to conquer it. Why the pope did not borrow a sword nearer home 
for the extirpation of this new growth we are not told. 

This side the Alps the Paulician doctrines first attracted attention 
in Champagne, where a Manichaean named Fortunatus is said to 
have converted the prince of the country, and where the archbishop 
of Bheims who had imbibed the heresy was compelled to abjure, 
a.d. 991. One of the converts, described as a Catharist, put away 
his wife, and destroyed the cross and the image of Christ. He had 
many followers. He was reduced to silence by the bishop of Chalons. 
In the province of Aquitaine (Guienne), in 1010, and again in 1017, 
certain heretical teachers are accused of " persuading the people to 
deny baptism, the sign of the Holy Cross, the Church, -and the 
Bedeemer of the world Himself, the veneration of the saints, lawful 

1 About the year 1028. 
2 See ante, p. 310. 


marriage, and the eating of flesh, by which means they turned 
away many simple persons from the faith." 1 

The earliest instance of ecclesiastical action in France against 
the new heresy, of which we have any account, took place at 
Orleans a.d. 1022. An Italian lady sojourning in that city, com- 
municated the doctrine she had learned in her own country to 
several of the clergy, especially to two canons of the " Holy Cross," 
Stephen, confessor to Queen Constantia, and Lisoius. Amongst 
the converts was Herebert, chaplain to Arefaste a knight of Bouen- 
The chaplain boasted to his patron that Orleans was blessed above 
all other cities with the light of true wisdom. Arefaste suspecting 
heresy, communicated what he had heard to Duke Eichard, who 
reported it to the king, by whose command he went to Orleans to 
investigate the matter. The more completely to do this he feigned 
himself a disciple, and for the protection of his own soul from the 
poison of the heresy, by the advice of an aged priest of Chartres, he 
received the Communion daily. Supposing they had to do with an 
honest inquirer, Stephen and Lisoius unfolded to him their doctrine 
without reserve. They declared, so Arefaste reported, that Christ 
was not born of the Virgin Mary, did not suffer for mankind, was 
not really laid in the tomb, and did not rise from the dead ; that 
water-baptism cannot wash away sins ; and that the consecrating 
words of the priest cannot convert the bread and wine into the body 
and blood of Christ ; that it is a vain thing to make prayers to the 
saints and martyrs ; and that works of righteousness and charity 
cannot purchase eternal life. 2 " If," objected the pretended in- 
quirer after truth, "lam not to look to good works for salvation, 
tell me I pray you what I may look to, lest I fall into despair." He 
was answered that in their further instructions they would show 
him how he might be cleansed from every stain of sin, and receive 
the Holy Spirit by the laying on of their hands ; and that then he 
should eat heavenly food, and often see angels, with whom he 
should travel whither he pleased with ease and despatch. The 

1 There is no doubt that some of these sects trod in the footsteps of the 
monks and hermits both as to celibacy and fasting. In some instances, how- 
ever, the charge that they rejected marriage probably meant no more than that 
they " denied it to be a ' sacrament,' and disputed the endless impediments of 
affinity created by the Bomish Church." At the Diet of Worms Aleander 
absurdly accused Luther of " shamefully vilifying the unalterable law of holy 

2 Another account makes them reject the revelation of the Scriptures with 
regard to creation and the Trinity, and deny the necessity of a virtuous life and 
the future punishment of the wicked. 


heavenly food they spoke of he interpreted to be nightly orgies, at 
which, as was reported of the Early Christians, they indulged in 
Thyestean banquets. 

Whilst Arefaste was thus deceitfully collecting evidence, King 
Robert arrived with his queen at Orleans; and the next day, 
having caused the chief men of the party to be apprehended 
at one of their private meetings, he assembled a council of bishops, 
before whom they were brought in chains for trial. Called upon to 
confess their faith, they did this in so guarded a manner as to afford 
no ground for accusation. But when Arefaste stood forward and 
recounted the conversations he had had with them, and reminded 
them of their boast that neither torture nor death would ever move 
them, they admitted the charges and said they had long held such 
doctrines. Nay more, they asserted their expectation that both 
their judges and all the world would, sooner or later, embrace the 
same faith ; and as to the fire with which they were threatened, 
they spoke as though they expected to be delivered from it unhurt. 
Their last words to the council were : " Speak to those who mind 
earthly things and who believe the figments of men written on 
parchment ; to us who have the law written on the heart by the 
Holy Spirit, and relish nothing but what we have learned from 
God, the things you speak of are vain. Cease therefore to question 
us ; do with us as you will ; for now we see our King ready to re- 
ceive us to heavenly joys at his right hand." After a nine hours* 
examination they were condemned to death ; and, such of them as 
were priests being first stripped of their clerical vestments, they 
were led away, thirteen in number, to a great fire kindled outside 
the city walls. As they passed the church-door, Queen Constantia 
with a stick struck her confessor Stephen, and dashed out one of 
his eyes. When they were bound to the stake, a smile was seen on 
their faces which continued even in the midst of the flames. 1 Ten 
of those who were burnt were canons, the remaining three being 
laymen of distinction. Two, a priest and a nun, drew back. The 
corpse of another canon who had died in the heresy three years 
before was, at the command of the bishop, exhumed and cast out 
on the highway. 

1 This is the statement of the more copious narrator. The other principal 
authority, Glaber Rodulphus, says, " they leaped exulting into the flames, but 
no sooner felt the heat than they cried out that they had been deceived, and 
were about to perish for ever. The by-standers moved with pity made efforts to 
draw them out, but it was too late; they were reduced to ashes." He adds 
that others of the sect being afterwards discovered were put to death in the 
same manner. 


What was the real creed of these confessors it is difficult to say ; 
it must be borne in mind that all we know of them is derived from 
the evidence of a spy and the records of a prejudiced court. Such 
testimony is to be received with the utmost caution. The charge 
of abominable practices is in direct contradiction to their known 
character, since their enemies themselves bear witness to their 
intelligence and the purity of their lives. 

Thus for the first time in Europe were men burnt at the stake 
by the Church which called herself Christian. This deed marks 
the beginning of the saddest era in the history of the Church. To 
France was offered the priceless boon of a revival in religious life. 
She knew not the day of her visitation, and quenched the upspring- 
ing light in blood. She did not foresee the long and dark reign of 
injustice and cruelty she was then inaugurating, and how when the 
bitter cup was full, it would be given back to her to drink to the 
very dregs. The Auto-da- Fes of the eleventh and twelfth centuries 
were the forerunners of the sanguinary crusades against the Albi- 
genses, Waldenses and Huguenots, and more remotely, of the 
national infidelity and the French Eevolution. Again and again, 
with a remorseless hand, the salt was cast out, until notbing 
remained to save the nation from corruption. If the attempts at 
reformation so often renewed in France had had free course, the 
unbelief of the eighteenth century had surely never so stifled the 
voice of truth as to leave the nation a prey to tbe curse of intellec- 
tual without spiritual life. The seeds of this bitter harvest were 
sown in the blazing faggots of Orleans. 

Three years after the burning at Orleans we find similar opinions 
reappearing at Arras in French Flanders. In 1025 Gerhard, arch- 
bishop of Cambray and Arras, being in the latter city, was informed 
that a new kind of heresy had been introduced by certain Italians, 
" who disputed against the sacraments of the Church and overthrew 
the established religion." The accused were cast into prison, 
brought before the bishop and examined as to their faith and 
manner of life. They answered that they were the disciples of one 
Gundulph, an Italian, by whom they had been instructed in the 
gospels and epistles the only Scriptures which they acknowledged 
and that they adhered to these in word and life. They discarded 
the use of the bread and wine, and rejected water-baptism, especially 
the baptism of infants. They condemned images, denied the 
sanctity of churches, altars and crosses, and disapproved of incense, 
oil and bells. They condemned marriage, and asserted that funeral 
rites were invented by the priests to gratify their avarice, and that 
it mattered nothing where the dead were interred. They objected 


-to penance as then practised, and denied that the sins of the dead 
can be expiated by masses or by gifts to the poor. They protested 
against the difference of rank amongst the clergy, and in their zeal 
for a spiritual Christianity, they denied the divine authority of 
Church offices. They summed up the doctrines of Christ and the 
Apostles in these few comprehensive articles : "To forsake the 
world, to overcome the flesh, to support one's self by labour, to 
injure no one, to love the brethren." The bishop was a prudent 
man. Desiring the reclamation, not the destruction, of these 
seceders, he ordered his clergy and the monks to fast and pray for 
them, whilst he himself reasoned with them in a laborious and 
temperate manner. To afford them time for reflection, he remanded 
them to prison for three days ; at the end of which, whether 
influenced by the bishop's arguments, or by the thickness of the 
prison walls, or by the fear of a worse fate, they submitted and sued 
for pardon. A paper of retractation was drawn up which they 
signed, and they were then dismissed in peace with the episcopal 
benediction. But it is to be noted that the recantation was in 
Latin, a language they did not understand, and that it was explained 
to them by an interpreter. 

Several councils for the suppression of heresy, one at Charroux 
near Poictiers in 1028, another at the royal city of Rheims in 1049, 
and a third at Toulouse in 1056, serve to show how wide-spread the 
religious fermentation had become. 1 By the last two all who kept 
company with the heretics were declared to be excommunicate. 
About the same time Berengar, head of the Public School at Tours, 
drew much attention by assailing the doctrine of transubstantiation. 
His writings were condemned, 1050 1055, by several councils, and 
lacking the fortitude of a martyr he recanted. 2 Besides maintain- 
ing that the Lord's Supper was to be a spiritual, not an outward 
communion, he is said to have rejec